This March, we’re joining leading medical and health organizations around the country for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month, to help spread knowledge about this common and (in some cases) potentially fatal condition. While the American Heart Association estimates up to 2 million monthly cases of DVT in the U.S., nearly 3/4 of Americans surveyed by the American Public Health Association had little to no awareness of it.
With just a few key pieces of information, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones from missing the signs, and reduce your chances of developing DVT.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
In the simplest terms, DVT is another name for a blood clot (thrombus) in the deep veins, most often of the legs. These veins aren’t the same as the surface (or “superficial”) veins often visible from the skin; they are bigger and deeper in the muscle tissue. When a clot forms within them, it can block circulation and cause symptoms ranging from barely noticeable to painful to critical.
What are the Symptoms of DVT?
The most easily detectable cases of DVT include swelling, pain, and sometimes discolored or hot skin on the affected leg. If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, you do not necessarily have DVT—other conditions, including sore or strained muscles, vein inflammation, phlebitis, and skin infection can exhibit the same symptoms.
Cases in the lower leg are rarely serious, but clots above the knee can lead to a blocked blood vessel in the lung, known as pulmonary embolism, which forms when the clot breaks away from its original location and travels up the bloodstream. While it is easily preventable, in some rare cases, this can cause serious health problems and may be fatal.
How Do I Know if I Have DVT?
Almost half of all DVT cases are known as “silent,” meaning they may have little to no noticeable symptoms. The only way to know for certain whether or not you may have DVT is to visit a vein specialist for a venous ultrasound or other professional detection methods.
How Can I Reduce My Risk for DVT?
The best treatment for DVT is actually prevention. A healthy, moderately active lifestyle that includes regular exercise and good nutrition helps circulation and takes pressure off of the legs by promoting healthy weight. If you travel frequently or spend long periods of time standing or sitting, take extra measures to move and elevate your legs and stay hydrated. Wearing medical-grade compression stockings can also greatly increase comfort and circulation.
How is DVT Treated?
Aside from prevention, DVT is most often treated with anti-coagulant medications, which decrease the blood’s propensity to clot and prevent existing clots from getting bigger. These medicines themselves don’t break down clots though; the body typically does that on its own over time. The length of time they are prescribed depends on each particular patient.
In the case of larger or life-threatening clots, a doctor may use medications called thrombolytics, which act quickly to dissolve the clot.
If you think you may be at risk for or currently experiencing DVT and would like to find out for sure, call Bunker Vein & Imaging at (512) 726-0599 to schedule a free consultation. Don’t take a gamble on this one…one complimentary appointment could save your life!