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Facts about Deep Vein Thrombosis DVT


In 2005, due to growing evidence of a new health care epidemic, the United States Senate passed a resolution declaring the month of March as National deep vein thrombosis (DVT) Awareness month.  The scope of the problem is significant as it is estimated that one of every twenty persons will be affected by DVT over their lifetime.  Currently, over 500,000 cases of DVT or pulmonary embolus are reported and over 100,000 deaths occur each year, representing the third most common cause of death in hospitalized patients.  



What causes deep vein thrombosis and life threatening blood clots?



Three common features lead to deep vein thrombosis, stagnant blood flow, inherited or acquired clotting disorders, or trauma.  Stagnant blood flow is seen with prolonged bed rest or hospitalization > 5 days, long bone and pelvis fractures, major joint replacement surgeries, abdominal and pelvic surgeries, and prolonged travel in confined space of a plane or car. 


Acquired influences include inherited clotting conditions, use of birth control pills, obesity, serious infections, malignancies, and dehydration.  Beyond major trauma and direct vascular trauma, other conditions such as advanced age, congestive heart failure, family history of blood clots, and the presence of varicose veins each contribute to the risk for DVT.  Part of the growing incidence may be attributed to the obesity problem in American which some have reported to add a 30% risk compared to a normal weight person with the same risks for DVT.


How would I know if I had a blood clot?


When a DVT develops patients typically sense a feeling or leg pain and swelling in the affected limb.  These findings may be limited in the hospital and the presence of symptoms may be ignored or attributed to surgery or minor concerns.  The problem is that even when the first blood clot develops, life-threatening complications can and do occur.  As a blood clot becomes dislodged from the leg veins it may travel to the heart and lungs, obstructing flow on the right side of the heart.  When this occurs it is called a pulmonary embolus (PE).  Pulmonary embolus is a life threatening condition that is typically accompanied by chest pain and shortness of breath.

 

Why is knowing your risk or a family member’s risk for this epidemic condition such a concern?


 

Because the first clot an individual may prove deadly.   One recent study reported over 40% of patients developing clots in the hospital may have been prevented had DVT risk been assessed AND proper blood thinning measures applied.


Deep and superficial blood clots are not trivial matters, and these conditions may indicate far more serious medical problems.  If you have concerns about your risk for deep vein blood clots and promoting healthy veins speak with your doctor or a dedicated vein specialist.  Take responsibility for your vein health prevent yourself from become part of the growing statistics with this epidemic.


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