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Important Facts About Deep Vein Thrombosis and Varicose Veins

March has been designated as DVT Awareness month. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious health risk to the American population, yet many people don’t know about DVT or are confused about what can happen. DVT occurs when a blood clot, or thrombus, forms in one of the major veins of the legs. The clot can totally or partially block off blood flow in a vessel. The veins are the vessels that return the (used) blood to the heart, so blockage can lead to swelling and pain in the extremity, as blood is unable to drain properly. Sometimes, the clot can become loose in the vein, or a piece can break off and travel up to the heart and into the lungs. This is known as pulmonary embolism, (PE) and can have life threatening consequences if blood flow to the lungs is obstructed.Massive pulmonary embolism associated with DVT affects 300,000 – 600,000 people in the United States each year, and causes as many as 200,000 deaths. PE often is not recognized before it causes death, but 10% of people with a PE die within a month. PE is the leading cause of preventable in-hospital mortality.The general risk of DVT in our adult population is about 1/1000. Although DVT can develop at any age, the risk of DVT certainly increases with age. In people over 85 years old, the risk may exceed 13/1000. Immobilization due to hospitalization, recent surgery, pregnancy and the early weeks after delivery, long car trips and air travel all increase the risk of blood clots. Other conditions that are known to have a higher risk include obesity, cancer, stroke, heart failure, and varicose veins. Injuries such as lower extremity fractures can also cause thrombus to form. Certain conditions that make blood more likely to clot can be inherited, and some can be caused by medications such as birth control pills and estrogens. The more risk factors an individual has, the more likely he or she is to develop DVT.

Dr. Manjoney on The Morning Blend: Tips for Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT may occur without any symptoms. But larger clots can lead to leg swelling and pain. When a person has varicose veins, he may develop superficial phlebitis in the varicose veins. This is a painful condition with a varicose vein becoming red, warm, and tender. Most doctors would just treat this with aspirin or anti-inflammatory pills and local heat. However, up to 40% of individuals with superficial phlebitis in varicose veins may have a simultaneous deep vein thrombosis! Whenever there is a superficial phlebitis above the knee, or when any phlebitis is extensive, it is necessary to be sure DVT is not present. A painless ultrasound evaluation is the way to see the entire picture.

DVT is a serious problem that requires immediate medical attention. Blood thinners are usually needed, and clot-dissolving medication may be indicated. If DVT is left untreated, a fatal PE is more likely occur. Graduated compression hose should be used for several months following a DVT of the leg. There is a risk of recurrence of DVT for the first several months after the initial occurrence. In addition, complications that include chronic leg swelling, discoloration and ulceration can be serious life-long problems.

So what can you do to prevent DVT? The most important thing to do is keep moving! If you are in a hospital, or sitting for several hours in a car or plane, you must exercise enough to keep blood flowing in the veins. If you cannot get up and walk, then you can do other maneuvers just to get your leg muscles working. As the muscles contract, they pump blood actively back to the heart. If the blood is moving, a thrombus cannot form. We have included a few easy exercises for those times when your activity is limited as well as some informational videos and printed material.

Before and After Varicose Veins Cases for Wisconsin Vein Center & MediSpa’s

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