Deep Vein Thrombosis: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself

Are you over 60 years old?  Are you pregnant or had a baby in the last six weeks? A smoker or overweight? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis! The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a list of risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis.

MedlinePlus defines Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) as a blood clot in a large vein, usually in the leg or pelvis. Sometimes a DVT detaches from the site of formation and becomes mobile in the blood stream. If the circulating clot moves through the heart to the lungs, it can block an artery supplying blood to the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE). The disease process that includes DVT and/or pulmonary embolism is called venous thromboembolism (VTE). A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that each year in the United States, an estimated 350,000–900,000 persons develop incident VTE, of whom approximately 100,000 die Mostly as sudden deaths, the cause of which often goes unrecognized. In addition, 30%–50% of persons with lower-extremity DVT develop post-thrombotic syndrome (a long-term complication that causes swelling, pain, discoloration, and, in severe cases, ulcers in the affected limb). Finally, 10%–30% of persons who survive the first occurrence of VTE develop another VTE within five years. 

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Treatment includes medicines to ease pain and inflammation, break up clots and keep new clots from forming. Keeping the affected area raised and applying moist heat can also help. If you are taking a long car or plane trip, take a break, walk or stretch your legs and drink plenty of liquids.

Know the Symptoms to Save Your Life

About half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of DVT that occur in the affected part of the body:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness of the skin

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. You can have a PE without any symptoms of a DVT. Signs and symptoms of a PE include:

Deep Vein Thrombosis: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself

An estimated 350,000–900,000 persons develop incident VTE yearly. The CDC states that approximately 100,000 died of venous thromboembolism (VTE}.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Coughing up blood
  • Very low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or fainting

If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. Move around as soon as possible after having been on bed rest, such as after surgery, illness, or injury.

Four Steps to Protect Yourself

The following four tips can help prevent blood clots:

  • Move around as soon as possible after having been on bed rest, such as after surgery, illness, or injury
  • If you’re at risk for blood clots, talk to your doctor about:
    • Graduated compression stockings (sometimes called “medical compression stockings”)
    • Medication (called anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots.
  • When sitting for long periods of time, such as when traveling for more than four hours:
    • Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours.
    • Exercise your legs while you’re sitting by:
      • Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
      • Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
      • Tightening and releasing your leg muscles
    • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • You can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being active, and following your doctor’s recommendations based on your individual risk factors.

Jay Harold urges you to be aware of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Prevention is far better than treatment with drugs or medical compression stockings. Learn more by visiting the MedlinePlus website or CDC’s site on Deep Vein Thrombosis. Another great resource is the National Library of Medicine’s website.

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