People with diabetes are more prone to develop conditions such as blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. This increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle changes and proper treatment can minimize the possibility of problems such as blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and stroke.
- When you have diabetes, sugar can build up in your blood stream rather than being used for energy. Changes occur in your blood and arteries which may lead to the formation of blood clots. People with diabetes are more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT) with blood clots forming in the body’s large veins, especially in the legs. The muscles do not contract to push blood back to the heart. This puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Other risks include damage to the kidneys, nerves and eyes. Lifestyle changes and proper care can reduce these risks.
- Symptoms of DVT may include swelling, tenderness and a red streak on the leg. You might also get pain in your leg when you stand or walk. The leg could become discolored and warm. People with DVT may have shortness of breath, rapid breathing and an increased heartbeat with sharp chest pains. Other symptoms include sweating, dizziness, coughing up blood and passing out. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
- DVT can travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, making it difficult to breathe and get oxygen. The risk of DVT and life-threatening pulmonary embolism is increased for people with diabetes. A lack of movement and sedentary lifestyle can be a DVT trigger. Engage in regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days per week. Enjoy an active lifestyle that includes plenty of walking and stretching. Move around when you are traveling at least every 30 minutes and keep legs elevated when you can.
- Have a heart-healthy diet to ward off DVT and related heart problems. Eat green vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish. Minimize your intake of processed foods, cholesterol, red meat and saturated fat. Grill or broil foods rather than frying them. Maintain a healthy weight and talk to your doctor, diabetes educator or dietitian about a meal plan if you are overweight. Even shedding 10 percent of your body weight makes a big difference.
- Eliminate bad habits that lead to increased blood sugar and a lack of oxygen in your body. If you smoke, get help to kick the habit. Minimize your intake of alcoholic beverages and caffeine. Reduce the need for cookies, candy and fatty snacks. Keep diabetes-friendly snacks on hand to ward off hunger pains and help you resist temptation. Drink six to eight glasses of water each day to reduce the possibility of dehydration. Do not skip meals.
- Control your blood sugar levels to minimize the chance of DVT. Regularly monitor your blood sugar. Check your blood pressure by using a blood pressure monitor at home. Report irregular results to your physician. Stick to your diabetes treatment plan and take all your prescribed medications on schedule. If you have varicose veins, discuss treatment with your doctor to prevent blood clots. Your doctor may also prescribe blood thinning medication to prevent clots. Talk to your physician about taking a daily baby aspirin.
- Practice proper foot care to detect problems before they become serious. Check your feet daily to look for red marks, swelling, blisters and cuts. Wear shoes that fit correctly and consider diabetic shoes. Talk to your physician about compression stockings to help prevent blood clots. These special stockings squeeze the veins in your legs to move the blood back towards your heart.
- If you are required to sit for long periods of time, make sure to get up and walk around every hour to reduce your risk of DVT. You can also do simple leg exercises while you sit. Raise and lower your heels while your toes remain on the ground. Keep your heels on the ground and lift and lower your toes. Lift your foot and draw circles with your toes then reverse them. Lift each leg and straighten it. If you are hospitalized or have surgery, discuss DVT prevention strategies with your doctor. An intermittent pneumatic compression device (IPC) can be used to prevent blood clots if you need extended bed rest.
Knowledge is power when it comes to strokes, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. Develop an effective diabetes self-management plan and communicate with your doctor regularly. Look for the signs and symptoms of DVT and report them right away to avoid further complications including pulmonary embolism, heart disease and stroke.