What To Know About DVT
Spring is here, but before you fully focus on the warmer days and blossoming flowers, there is one serious subject that deserves your attention: DVT. It’s vital that everyone—especially adults over 60—understand how to recognize, treat, and live with this condition.
DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis, and it occurs when a blood clot (a “thrombus,” in scientific terms) forms in one or more of your body's deep veins. Many of these veins are in your legs, and that’s where the majority of DVT occurs. Why are DVTs so worrisome? Because these clots can break loose and travel to your lungs, and block blood flow (doctors call this a “pulmonary embolism”). All this can sound scary, but with a basic awareness of the causes and symptoms, you can reduce your risk of DVT, as well as understand how to treat it with confidence.
There are many factors that can play into developing DVT, but the largest is a prolonged period of inactivity, such as many hours spent driving or flying or long durations of bed rest after injuries, ailments, or surgeries. Genetics also factor into the equation. If you have a family history of DVT, you too are at a greater risk. Age and overall health should also be considered, as adults who are overweight or over 60 have a higher likelihood of developing DVT. Smoking, trauma, diseases such as cancer, nutritional deficiencies and dehydration can also contribute to blood clots.
Despite the laundry list of possible causes, it’s impossible to predict DVT, which is why recognizing its symptoms is essential. The most common symptom is swelling in the leg. Very rarely does DVT form in both legs, so if just one leg swells up in a short period of time, it could be DVT. DVT can also cause a cramp-like leg pain (usually in the calf), discoloration (particularly redness), and a burning sensation. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Additionally, it’s important to make yourself aware of any red flags related to a pulmonary embolism—sudden shortness of breath, chest pain/ heaviness, difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these, call 911 immediately.
So how can you avoid a DVT? Activity is the key ingredient as walking increases the circulation in your legs and healthy circulation minimizes the risk of clot formation. Take a 20 minute walk every day. Walk to the bathroom and back every two hours on the airplane. If you can’t walk, point your toes and flex your feet several times in your seat. Hydrate on long trips. Yes, you will have to stop more frequently for bathroom breaks, but that’s a good excuse to walk! Wear compression hose when traveling long distances. Not only will they keep puffy ankles at bay, but they also improve venous circulation.
What happens if you get a DVT? Your doctor will prescribe a blood thinner that will stabilize the blood clot and prevent it from migrating. Overtime your body will work to reabsorb the clot…taking the risk and symptoms away too.
If you have any further questions about DVT, don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly at 866-695-8346. Our providers have helped hundreds of patients identify and treat blood clots, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.