DVT: What You Need to Know

August 10, 2009 8:35:57 AM PDT
According to the MayoClinic.com, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body. This usually happens in the legs. That blood clot can break loose and travel to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary (lung) embolism. In severe cases, a pulmonary embolism can cause death. However, many instances of DVT disappear on their own. SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES: DVT can cause some symptoms such as leg pain, but the condition often occurs without warning. DVT can have many causes such as prolonged sitting or an inherited blood-clotting disorder that increases a person's risk. Some other risk factors include:

  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay or during paralysis
  • Injury or surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Smoking and obesity
  • Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • A family history or history of DVT

  • HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE IT? Doctors will typically perform a physical exam to look at any areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration of the skin. Other testing options may include an ultrasound, a CT or MRI scan, a blood test or a venography procedure.

    PREVENTION: The good news is you can prevent DVT. Some prevention tactics include:

  • Taking prescribed medications as directed.
  • Checking with your doctor to see if medications or treatments need to be modified.
  • Watching your intake of vitamin K if you take blood thinners. It can affect how the drugs work.
  • Exercising your lower calf muscles if you'll be sitting a long time.
  • Moving. If you've been on bed rest because of surgery, the sooner you get moving, the less likely blood clots will develop.
  • Making lifestyle changes. Losing weight, quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure will all help.
  • Wearing compression stockings if your doctor recommends them. These help prevent blood clots in the legs.

  • TREATMENT: The goals of treating DVT are to stop the blood clot from getting any bigger, prevent the clot from breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism and prevent DVT from happening again. Blood thinners are sometimes used to decrease the blood's ability to clot. Other medications like clotbusters may be used. If you can't take medicines to thin your blood, a filter may be inserted into a large vein in your abdomen. This filter prevents clots that break loose from lodging in the lungs. Compression stocking may also help reduce the chances that your blood will pool and clot.

    For More Information, Contact:

    Ashlee Seymour, Marketing Director
    Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center
    Las Vegas, NV
    (702) 731-8288
    Ashlee.seymour@hcahealthcare.com
    http://www.preventdvt.org


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