Every year over Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) related Pulmonary Embolisms claim the lives of more than 300,000 Americans - more than the AIDS and breast cancer combined. Overall, DVT affects about 2 million Americans, 600,000 of whom are hospitalized every year. What do you know about DVT? In honor of Deep-vein thrombosis month - take the opportunity to get educated and spread the word.
Deep-vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a large vein leading to partially or completely blocked circulation. Thrombus usually occurs in the lower limbs like the calf or thigh. Symptoms for DVT include: pain, tenderness, swelling, discoloration, and skin that is warm to the tough. About half of the people who experience DVT don't experience any symptoms. The leading causes of DVT are injury, immobility, surgery, and illnesses like cancer, clotting disorders, and inflammatory diseases. Prolonged immobility like sitting down or lying down can slow down the blood flow and lead to blood pooling or accumulating in the extremities.
DVT strikes people mostly 60 years or older, though it can affect anyone who is at risk. Certain cancers lead to clotting factors and increase in blood. Infections or injuries to blood vessels can occur before or after surgery. Pregnant women are five times more likely to develop DVT than non-pregnant women. The risk increases in the third trimester and immediately after delivery. There also may be an increased risk of DVT among women who take oral contraceptives or hormone replacement.
The biggest risk associated with DVT is the development of a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE occurs when a blood clot breaks loose from the wall of a vein and travels to the lungs. From there, the clot blocks the pulmonary artery or one of its branches. Symptoms of PE are shortness of breath, apprehensive feeling, chest pain, rapid pulse, sweating, or a bloody cough. DVT-related PE is the leading cause of preventable hospital death in US hospitals.
DVT is best treated by prevention. Without preventative treatments, nearly 60 percent of patients who undergo total hip replacement may get DVP. Medications for treating DVT are "blood thinners" either Thrombolytic or Anticoagulants. They do not actually thin the blood, but instead prevent clots from forming. Surgical procedures are administered to patients who cannot take anticoagulants or who have developed PE while on therapy. These procedures include insertion of a filter to include the blood clot. To minimize pain and discomfort of DVT, doctors recommend:
* Elevate the affected leg whenever possible
* Apply heat to relieve pain and reduce swelling
* Wear compression bandages or support hose
* Avoid long periods of immobility
The best way to prevent DVT is by speaking with your doctor about your risks. Because DVT is difficult to detect and symptoms, when present, are subtle--early detection is essential to preventing risks of complications. Without treatment, DVT can prove fatal. Know your risk - check out this test to determine your DVT blood clot risk.
Although some people may be at risk for developing DVT, DVT can occur in almost anyone. Some risk factors or triggering events to discuss with your patient include, but are not limited to:
* Congestive heart failure or respiratory failure
* Restricted mobility
* Age over 40 years
* Recent surgery
* Prior or family history of venous thromboembolism (VTE)
As with any health risks, if you are concerned or seek more information please do not hesitate to speak with your doctor.
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Learn more at PreventDVT.org