How Tobacco Smoking Made a Case of DVT Get Worse

When an unattended case of DVT led to Pulmonary Embolism.

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It started with a mild pain in my leg. So, I ignored it. By the fourth day I could barely walk. On the sixth day there was a sharp pain in my chest and I coughed up blood. But I kept smoking.
Anunay Chaterjee, 32

Thirty-two-year-old Anunay Chatterjee believed it couldn’t be anything serious when he kept ignoring the constant ache he felt in his calves for weeks. What he thought was just exhaustion, turned out to be an intense case of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

One should rush to the hospital even if there are the slightest symptoms of DVT.
One should rush to the hospital even if there are the slightest symptoms of DVT.
(Photo: UPMC

"You’re too young to suffer from any illness of that sort.”

We have a tendency to not address our illnesses till they get to a severe stage, thanks to our own internalised ignorance that sows misconceptions in our heads.

We exert our body until it reaches the breaking point.

That's exactly what happened in Anunay's case.

We exert ourselves even when our body is crying out for help.
We exert ourselves even when our body is crying out for help.
(Photo: Unsplash)

Anunay used to be a chain-smoker. Little did he know how much smoking was worsening his condition. His case of unattended DVT eventually led to a pulmonary embolism.

I woke up late after partying all night. There was a mild pain in my left calf which I ignored assuming it was just because I was hungover. The pain got worse, but I tried managing it the next two days by applying Volini on it.
Anunay Chatterjee, 32

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious medical condition which occurs due to the formation of clots in one or more veins in the body, usually in the legs.

By the fourth day, the pain was way too much for me to tolerate and I could barely move my leg. Finally, a friend took me to the nearest hospital, where the doctors couldn’t diagnose anything but gave some pain killers for relief. They were of no use.
Anunay Chatterjee, 32

There can be many reasons behind the development of DVT. It can happen if you don't move for a long time, such as after surgery or an accident, or when you're confined to bed for a long time.

Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs due to the formation of clots in one or more veins in the body.
Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs due to the formation of clots in one or more veins in the body.
(Photo: Medical News Today)

There can be several factors that can affect blood flow in the deep veins and extend the risk for developing blood clots. Such as:

  • Ageing
  • A family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
  • Having a particular kind of malignant cancers
  • Vein disease, such as varicose veins
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Using birth control pills
  • Pregnancy
  • Being overweight
  • Genetic blood-clotting disorder
On the 6th day, there was a piercing pain in the left side of my chest while breathing and when I coughed there were blood spots in the phlegm. Unaware of my condition I kept smoking even though it wasn’t a wise thing to do.
Anunay Chatterjee, 32

Deep vein thrombosis can happen to anyone. It turns serious when blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstream and embed themselves in your lungs, blocking blood flow. This further development is also known as Pulmonary Embolism.

My dad took me to the hospital on the 7th day when I finally got diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolism because of unaddressed DVT. I  was immediately admitted under critical observation.     
Anunay Chatterjee, 32

What is a Pulmonary Embolism?

“A Pulmonary Embolism is a complication caused by neglecting the signs of DVT,” Dr. Vikas Bhardwaj, an orthopedic surgeon says.

When a blood clot gets stuck in an artery in the lung, blocking blood flow to that part of the lung, that’s when Pulmonary Embolism takes place. These clots mostly originate in the legs and travel up through the heart and then into the lungs.

In Anunay’s case, his smoking affected two major things - the blood vessel walls’ integrity and blood clotting. Tobacco makes a lot of biochemical changes in the body. It produces free radicals that damage the innermost lining of the blood vessels and shifts the balance between coagulation and anticoagulation. His condition was already severe and if he continued smoking, it could’ve become chronic.
Dr. Vikas Bhardwaj, Orthopedic surgeon

This incident was a turning point in Anunay’s life. He’s quit smoking and come to the realisation that you have to respect your body.

DVT is caused by various reasons but in my case, all the causes were ruled out as me smoking heavily even in that condition ended up resulting in Pulmonary Embolism. 
Anunay Chatterjee, 32

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