03.01.15 Dr. Garth Rosenberg DVT

DVT Awareness Month - Know Your Risks

March is DVT Awareness Month, and this very important medical problem is one that can lead to significant complications, especially if unrecognized. If the clot travels from the leg to the heart of lungs, significant risks to patient occur. DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is a clot in the veins deep in the leg, as opposed to more superficial veins, seen with varicose veins.

DVT risks include prolonger hospitalization, immobility, leg injury and varicosities. The medical community has long been aware of the risks posed and often will take measures in the hospital setting to reduce the potential of complications. However, quite a few DVTs occur in the outpatient setting without any apparent "warning". While rare, there are sporadic reports of these clots forming in patients after prolonged seated activities, such as long car rides or airline flights.

Some patients have inherent (genetically transmitted) "thick blood", and this is a predisposing factor to DVT. Additionally, untreated varicose veins may elevate the risk of superficial (surface) clots which can then lead to DVT.

When diagnosed, DVT is treated with a variety of medication, for example Xarelto, Heparin or Eliquis. While these medications don't make the clots dissolve, they do prevent the clot from growing and traveling to the heart of lungs.

Patients who develop unexplained leg swelling and pain should known that, while other causes may be present, one of the most life-threatening diagnoses is DVT. Contact with the health care provider is essential, and most likely, a venous ultrasound would be ordered to evaluate the veins in the leg. Awareness of this potentially fatal problem is essential, which is why it is important to spread the word about DVT awareness.

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