Why Deep Vein Thrombosis is a Serious Threat

Updated on: January 26, 2016

DVT: A Disease That Kills More People Than Motor Vehicle Accidents, Breast Cancer and AIDS Combined

While many people experience problems with varicose or spider veins, there are more serious venous conditions that require urgent treatment.

Blood clot, also known as venous thrombosis, represents a great threat. Since thrombus most frequently develops in the deep veins of the legs, it is referred to as deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Veins return blood to the heart and therefore, these clots can break loose and eventually go to the heart and lungs which is termed pulmonary embolism (PE).

Every year in the USA, 2 million individuals suffer a venous thrombotic event (VTE) and PE is the number one cause of unexpected death. Sadly, two of three deaths could be prevented and VTE remains the leading cause of preventable hospital death. Unfortunately, approximately 200,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from an estimated 600,000 cases of pulmonary embolism. A little known fact is that more people die each year from pulmonary embolism than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Specific treatments such as blood thinners, surgical procedures, and innovative non-surgical procedures such as pharmacomechanical thrombolysis have been developed to address the dangers that these conditions pose. In some cases, getting treatment means the difference between life and death.

Public Awareness of DVT

James Stewart, Heavy D, and David Bloom died of pulmonary embolism. While Jimmy Stewart was able to live to his “elder years,” both Heavy D and David Bloom were taken during their prime. It’s unfortunate that venous thromboembolism rarely gets press until those in the public eye are afflicted.

While media attention of DVT/PE is improving, a phone survey of over 1000 people revealed the following about public awareness of DVT:

  • 74% - little or no awareness
  • 57% - unable to name any common risk factors
  • 95% - physician had never discussed with them

The most staggering finding is that 95% of those surveyed reported that their physician never discussed DVT with them. We need to get the word out! VTE is an enormous problem.

DVT Risks

  • Sitting for long periods of time (long car ride or plane trip)
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • Injury or surgery (especially orthopedic)
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Heart failure
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • A pacemaker or catheter (tube) in a vein.
  • Prior deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • Family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Inherited blood-clotting disorder

The best way to avoid these killer clots is to know your risks. These are additive, meaning the more you have the higher the danger. If you are traveling long distance, pump your calf muscles and take frequent walks. Wearing compression stockings decreases the risk of DVT during travel. Stay hydrated, keep active and quit smoking

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