Obesity as the Cause of Life-Threatening Blood Clots

Patient Expert

Facts are simple things, indisputable conclusions that are as solid as Gibraltar. The myriad bits of information that establish facts may leave us scratching our heads, but the end result is bulletproof.

I still shudder every time I recall algebra class. I could have very well scratched my head bald had simple confusion not been replaced by a comfortable sort of stupor. Still in all, those formulas on the blackboard produced an indisputable Gibraltar time and again. At least that is what those students who actually understood what was going on told me.

Algebra aside, facts are simple things. Having said that, here is a fact: obesity is bad for you. Simple, right? As a matter of fact, obesity can be fatal for a number of reasons. For instance, obesity can cause blood clots.

What Are Blood Clots?

Blood clots are normally useful. Blood clots help the body repair injured blood vessels by sending platelets to the injured area where they form a plug. The platelets then release chemicals to begin the clotting until fibrin is formed. Fibrin is a protein that forms a mesh which makes up the final blood clot.

Serious problems can present if the blood stops moving.

Blood clots in a vein happen when a person is immobilized and muscles no longer push blood to the heart. I recall that after my gastric bypass surgery, an air pump and inflatable leggins were used to apply a pulsing pressure  to push  blood through my veins and keep it from standing still (when clots are more likely to form). If you are obese and will be immobile due to surgery or some other reason, it is a good idea to use one of these devices, called a sequential compression device.

Blood clots in an artery occur if plaque forms along the lining of the artery and narrow the vessel. This can result in   heart attack or stroke. Blood clots in the heart occur in the upper chamber if the heart does not beat properly. The blood tends to stagnate and form small blood clots.

Decreased blood flow can also contribute to clot formation.

Obesity and the Risk of Blood Clots

Obesity is a risk factor for blood clots in deep veins and for pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is a clot in the blood vessels of the lungs that can lead to sudden death.

Obesity also increases the risk for chronic vein disease, a damage to the vein valves that can be caused by blood clots. This damage results in an inability to pump enough blood back to the heart, causing blood to pool in the legs.

Vein disease also contributes to skin changers and ulcers on the legs. In one study of patients with chronic vein disease, it was found that the more a person weighed the more severe the disease was.

Obesity is also associated to a constant low-grade inflammation which may cause blood to be more susceptible to clotting.

Obesity and Leptin Levels

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that helps to regulate body weight. When leptin levels rise, our brains tell us to stop eating. If a person is obese, this regulatory system fails. Because obese and overweight people have a greater number of leptin-producing fat cells, leptin levels increase with every added pound. When leptin levels become high, obese people resist signals from the brain. This, in turn, makes them more vulnerable to leptin caused blood clotting.

What to read next: New Research May Explain Why Obesity Causes Blood Clots** References:**
HeartHealthWomen.org - http://www.hearthealthywomen.org/am-i-at-risk/vein-disease/obesity-overweight-and-vein-disease.html
MedicineNet.com - http://www.medicinenet.com/blood_clots/article.htm
Decreased blood flow can contribute to clot formation
Obesity, Leptin, and Blood Clots - http://www.annecollins.com/obesity/leptin-blood-clots.htm
Science Daily - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428162304.htm

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