Veins are blood vessels that return the blood to the heart. It’s a slow process because, except for the veins of the head, venous blood flow must go against gravity. There are two types of veins: ‘superficial’, the blue prominent veins that can be seen under the skin, and ‘deep’, located between muscles hidden in the legs and arms. The majority of blood flows through the deep veins. To ensure the blood flows in one direction only (towards the heart) there are numerous valves.
Although blood is fluid, it can clot if compounds produced by the body, called coagulation or clotting factors, are released into it. There are l3 of these eight are made in the liver; others are found in the inner walls of arteries, veins and blood vessels – so if a man nicks his face shaving the walls of the capillaries produce a clotting factor. (All l3 factors are necessary for effective clotting the absence of Factor VIII in the genetic disorder haemophilia can cause uncontrolled bleeding at the slightest injury.) When these factors are released, the platelets in the blood stick together and form chains – like coins stacked on top of each other. Then proteins called fibrins, which are normally dissolved in the plasma (liquid part of the blood), begin to crystallise and form micro-filaments. The platelets get trapped in this network of fibres and form clots.
Although it’s natural for blood to clot there are situations when it clots pathologically (abnormally). Common causes are factures, traumas, abdominal surgery prolonged bed rest, heart failure, labour and obesity. A long-term habit of crossing your legs squeezes the deep veins and overtime may damage the spongy inner wall. In your case, the sprained ankle damaged the wall of the veins and a clot formed in response. Clots usually form in the legs but they can travel to the heart and lungs causing pulmonary embolism, which may be fatal.
With the liver producing eight cloning factors, is condition is very important liver damage, from, say, drinking or drugs (medical or recreational), can create a chemical imbalance that leads to blood clotting. The manufacturers’ information with the pill and HRT (both can increase the risks of DVT) warn of possible liver damage.
Long-haul flights can create an ideal situation for DVTs to develop if a passenger has existing liver damage or sluggishness because of excess alcohol intake, HRI the pill, or other strong medication. Being immobile exacerbates the risk as does dehydration which thickens the blood. Also, the pressurised cabin may facilitate clot formation especially if the oxygen supply is reduced.
I learnt about treating DVTs from the dean of my faculty of medicine in Moscow, an eminent cardiovascular surgeon, who also practiced yoga, iridology and naturopathy. Professor Romashoff treated DVT patients with water-only fasts for two to three weeks, during which they mostly stayed in bed. As well as losing weight, the body produces a certain enzyme, urokinase enzyme, that dissolves the clots. Fasting also gives the liver a total rest and so improves its function, which in turn helps to regulate blood coagulation factors.
In conventional medicine, heparin, an anticoagulant drug based on a chemical derived from leeches, is used in acute conditions of ‘fresh’ DVT, or to prevent clot formation associated with surgery. Warfarin is another drug to help prevent blood clotting. Long-term aspirin, which is prescribed for coronary embolism, may help in the case of DVTs.
Here are my suggestions
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, yeast products and excess salt for six months or longer.
- If you are taking the pill, painkillers antibiotics or other drugs on a long-term basis, see your doctor to check if they could affect your liver and, if so, discuss corning off them.
- Fast once a week eating only non-citrus fruits, homemade vegetable broth, two litres of still water and three cups daily of Fasting Tea. For more details, see Dr Ali Weight Loss Plan.
- BioLiv: one tablet three times daily for three months; this Ayurvedic supplement helps liver function.
- Elastic stockings: support socks and stockings are widely available at chemists; by squeezing the leg, they promote blood flow through the deep veins, which helps to prevent them enlarging during inactivity.
- If you are stuck on a plane or train, move about as often as possible; while sitting rotate your feet from the ankles, point and flex your toes, draw your ankles up towards your knees then stretch them downwards.
- The Department of Health gives more information on DVTs, with advice on Travel-related DVT