The month of March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month. This is a health initiative whose point is to raise awareness of this often common medical condition and the potentially serious complications, including pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
According to statistics from the American Heart Association, each year up to 2 million Americans are affected by deep vein thrombosis. This condition is often more commonly known as blood clots; however, most people have little to no awareness of this potentially serious condition.
What is DVT?
There are two types of veins — superficial and deep. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein, usually in the leg, and causes partial or complete circulation blockage. The symptoms of DVT can include:
- Abnormally warm or hot skin in the area
- Skin discoloration
DVT, in nearly half of the cases, presents with minimal if any symptoms, making it very worrisome. Additionally, some conditions such as muscle strain or vein inflammation have the same or similar symptoms.
DVT that occurs below the knee can cause serious issues; however, clots located above the knee can break off, travel through the circulatory system, and result in a pulmonary embolism (blocked blood vessel) in the lung, which can be potentially deadly. Other issues of DVT are damaged blood vessels that create blood pooling, swelling and/or pain in the legs.
Diagnosing and Treating DVT
The best procedure to diagnose DVT is through an ultrasound procedure that measures the flow of blood, as well as identifies any clots. If DVT is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible to prevent the clot from growing or causing an embolism. Blood thinners such as Warfarin and Heparin are the usual course of treatment. You may also be instructed to exercise, elevate the affected leg, wear compression garments, and use a heating pad.
DVT is preventable in those who may be at higher risk. Prevention tips include:
- Increase dietary fiber
- Add Vitamin C to your diet – Vitamin C is essential to blood vessel health
- Stay hydrated
- Wear compression socks or garments
- Elevating your feet and/or lying horizontal to allow the blood to drain back to the body
Since DVT is not entirely preventable, it is important to maintain vein health, especially if you are in a high risk group. Dr. Thomas Wright and his staff at the Laser Lipo and Vein Center are experienced vein specialists. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your risk of DVT.