Certain meats linked to blood clots in veins, expert warns

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blot clots are small clumps of blood that have formed into a kind of gel. Although they are vital to help prevent excessive bleeding when you get a cut, some that don’t dissolve naturally can be dangerous. If they travel to organs such as the lungs or heart this is cause for serious concern.

One expert spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

Doctor Justine Butler, head of research at Viva! Health, said: “Blood clots in the veins (venous thromboembolisms or VTEs) are often associated with injury, prolonged bed rest or extended air travel.

“However, research shows how changing the diet may help lower your risk.

“Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a type of VTE and occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein (usually in the legs).

“If the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, it may block blood supply there, which is a life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism.

“Often underdiagnosed, this serious yet preventable problem can cause disability and death.”

According to Dr Butler, meat – particularly red and processed meat – can raise the risk of blood clots.

“Research suggests that lifestyle and dietary factors (obesity, poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise for example), may contribute to almost half of VTEs,” she said.

“Previous research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that Western-style diets containing red and processed meats were linked to an increased risk of VTEs.

“Conversely, diets containing plenty of fruit and vegetables were associated with a lower risk.”

Red meat includes:

  • Beef
  • Lamb and mutton
  • Pork
  • Veal
  • Venison
  • Goat.

Processed meats refers to meat that’s been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives, and includes:

  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Deli meats such as salami
  • Pâtés
  • Canned meat such as corned beef
  • Sliced lunch meats, including those made from chicken and turkey.

Dr Butler added: “No individual foods or nutrients appear to make much difference, it’s the overall pattern of your diet that counts – healthy or unhealthy.

“Healthy vegan diets have established benefits for cardiovascular health and research suggests they may also reduce the risk of blood clots.

“To protect your health and lower your risk of disease, Viva! Health recommends a diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain foods (wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice) and nuts and seeds.

“A good source of vitamin B12 and omega-3s (flaxseed oil and walnuts) is essential too to protect your arteries against blood clots.”

Symptoms of a blood clot include:

  • Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
  • Sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood.

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