Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms Statistics

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a disorder in which blood clots develop in the veins, most often in the deep veins of the legs. If one of these blood clots dislodges and travels to the heart or lungs, a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism can occur.

In order to protect yourself from DVT, it is important to understand DVT, including DVT causes, statistics, risk factors and symptoms.

What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?

There are several factors that can contribute to DVT, including:

  • Being over 60 years old or overweight can increase your risk of DVT.
  • Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may have a higher risk of developing DVT. Your doctor may prescribe additional medications to help prevent excessive clotting.
  • DVT can occur after surgery, particularly after surgery involving the hips or legs. Moving around after surgery encourages good circulation and can help prevent clots.
  • Genetic abnormalities can cause clotting disorders. If someone in your family has a problem with varicose veins or other blood or artery disorders, tell your doctor. He may prescribe medications that can help prevent DVT.
  • Pregnancy can also be a risk factor for DVT. Hormone changes in the mother’s body can cause blood to clot more in order to prevent excess bleeding during delivery. If you are prone to clotting, your doctor may prescribe medication for you to take throughout your pregnancy.
  • Standing or sitting for long periods without moving can cause blood to pool and then clot in the legs. Clotting causes the legs to swell, which may create even more clotting.

Important DVT Statistics

Here are a few important statistics on deep vein thrombosis:

  • Approximately 2 million Americans suffer from DVT each year.
  • Out of the 2 million, approximately 600,000 will develop pulmonary embolism.
  • Each year, nearly 60,000 Americans will die from pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

There are symptoms that you can look for to help prevent complications from DVT, especially if you know you are at a higher risk for developing DVT. Symptoms of DVT may include:

  • pain or swelling in one or both arms or legs
  • red or blue coloration of the skin
  • warming of the skin.

If you have any of the risk factors for DVT and begin to experience shortness of breath, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Breathing problems could be a sign that a blood clot has broken free and has traveled to the lung.

Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis

If your doctor determines that you have DVT, there are several kinds of treatment that can help:

  • Anticoagulants: Your doctor might prescribe anticoagulants to keep your blood from clotting and to help break up existing clots.
  • Filter: If you have a clot but your doctor decides medication may be too risky, you may have a filter implanted in your vena cava (a large vein in your abdomen). If any blood clots become loose, the filter will catch them before they can reach your lungs or heart.
  • Stockings: To help with DVT, your doctor might ask you to wear compression stockings, which can help improve circulation in your legs.

DVT Prevention

While you can’t always avoid DVT, there are things you can do to help prevent DVT. Here are some tips:

  • Get exercise: Moving around keeps your blood flowing. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking water helps your blood circulate properly. Be sure to drink water throughout the day.
  • Stop Smoking: Smoking inhibits proper circulation, which could help contribute to DVT.

Resources

MedlinePlus. Deep Vein Thrombosis. Retrieved on July 18, 2007, from the MedlinePlus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000156.htm.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Deep Vein Thrombosis. Retrieved on July 18, 2007, from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Dvt/DVT_All.html.

Vascular Web. Society for Vascular Surgery. Deep Vein thrombosis (DVT). Retrieved on July 18, 2007, from the Vascular Web Society for Vascular Surgery Web site: http://www.vascularweb.org/_CONTRIBUTION_PAGES/Patient_Information/NorthPoint/Deep_Vein_Thrombosis.html.