The Dangers of Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot developing in a deep vein, usually in the leg. They also can occur in other parts of the body. Blood clots in the veins in the thigh are usually more serious than blood clots that happen in veins in your lower leg. A DVT causes pain, and possible complications if it reaches the lungs. If a clot in a vein breaks off and travels through your bloodstream, it can lodge in your lung. This is called a pulmonary embolism which is a very serious condition that can cause death.

DVTs are known to occur in about 1 out of 1000 people in the general population from all causes. DVTs are more common in obese people and those aged over 40. Causes include long-distance air travel and long journeys by car, train or coach, because of prolonged immobility.

Symptoms of Deep vein thrombosis include: Swelling of the leg; Pain or tenderness in the leg-the pain is usually in one leg and may only be present when standing or walking; Feeling of increased warmth in the area of the leg that is swollen or that hurts; Red or discolored skin.

The main goals in treating deep vein thrombosis are to: Stop the clot from getting bigger; Prevent the clot from breaking off in your vein and moving to your lungs; Reduce your chance of having another blood clot.

Exercising the legs once an hour can reduce risk. Take regular breaks if driving, or walk up and down the coach, train or plane aisle.

Lower leg muscles can be exercised while sitting by pulling the toes towards the knees then relaxing, or by pressing the balls of the feet down while raising the heels.

Other preventative measures include: Avoid sleeping pills. These cause immobility, increasing the risk of DVT; Wear loose clothing; Keep legs uncrossed; Keep hydrated by drinking; Avoid alcohol to prevent dehydration; Wear graduated compression stockings or socks – particularly important for travelers with other DVT risk factors. Compression stockings are worn on the legs from the arch of the foot to just above or below the knee. These stockings are tight at the ankle and become looser as they go up the leg. This causes a gentle compression (or pressure) up your leg. They have some side effects: They can be uncomfortable when worn all day They can be hot They may be difficult to put on, especially for older adults and overweight people.

Some doctors recommend aspirin because of its blood thinning effects. This is unsuitable for children and can have side effects, so seek professional advice.

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