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What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Posted on March 13 2014

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that affects a number of Americans and can increase their risk of Pulmonary Embolisms, which can be very life threatening. Survey estimates suggest that as many as 600,000 Americans are affected by Deep Vein Thrombosis each year and as many as 100,000 deaths result from pulmonary embolisms. DVT occurs as a result of the formation of blood clots within the veins below the surface of the skin. If these clots break free and enter the lungs, they may cause a blockage that often results in Pulmonary Embolisms.

 

Who is at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis?

While there are a number of risk factors for DVT, those that maintain a confined position for an extended period of time, such as being wheelchair bound or even spending periods of time travelling for four hours or greater. Those who have the greatest risks for DVT also meet other criteria, such as:

 

- Being over the age of 40

- Being obese

- Hormones therapy - contraceptives, or for menopause symptoms

- Injury such as fracture, severe muscle injury, or surgery

- Heart, lung, and inflammatory diseases

- Pregnant women

- Cancer patients

- Personal or family history of clots

- Trouble with varicose veins

- Having an indwelling catheter

 

How do I know if I have Deep Vein Thrombosis?

In some cases, you may not experience any symptoms that would indicate that there is anything wrong. However, there are a few warning signs that can manifest, including:

 

- Inexplicable pain or tenderness

- Swelling of the arms and/or legs

- Warm areas of the skin

- Red skin

 

What are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?

Like blood clots in general, there may be no evident signs of pulmonary embolism. If any of the following signs manifest, though, it may be worth contacting your physician:

 

- Labored breathing

- Fast or irregular heart beat

- Chest pain, especially while breathing

- Dizziness or fainting

- Coughing up blood

 

How do I prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis?

In many cases, blood clots from Deep Vein Thrombosis can be prevented by knowing the warning signs and addressing the condition early.

 

- Talk to your physician if you are at risk for developing blood clots

- If you're stagnant for long periods of time, get up and move or flex the legs and ankles

- Compression stockings may help prevent the formation of blood clots

- Medicines are available to help prevent clotting

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/features/TravelDVT/

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/data.html

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html

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