If you’ve ever flipped through an in-flight magazine, you may have seen the small section toward the back that provides exercises for avoiding deep vein thrombosis (DVT), prompting you to wonder whether that was directed at you. Even if you don’t travel, you may have heard of the condition and debated whether or not to put DVT on your ever-growing “things to worry about” list.
The fact is, the CDC estimates that DVT may affect more than 900,000 people in the United States, which amounts to one of two out of every 1,000. These numbers are why Dr. David Naar, would like for his patients in Westlake, Ohio, to, at the very least, be aware of the condition.
To that end, we’ve pulled together the following primer on deep vein thrombosis and five steps you can take to prevent it from developing.
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot, or thrombus, develops in one the veins in your body, most typically in your legs. This clot can cause localized symptoms, including swelling, discoloration, and pain, but, just as often, there are no warning signs to make you aware of its presence.
Left unchecked, the clot can break off and make its way to your heart and lungs, where it creates a pulmonary embolism, which is a highly dangerous condition that can stop your blood flow.
There are a few factors that put you more at risk of developing DVT, including May-Thurner Syndrome, which is also called iliac vein compression syndrome. Unfortunately, there are few symptoms of May-Thurner Syndrome, and it’s usually only discovered after you’ve developed DVT.
If you fall into any of these risk categories, here are five steps you can take to head off DVT:
1. Road Warriors Beware
If you spend long periods crammed into airline seats or behind the wheel of your car, it’s important that you stretch your legs and get up and walk around periodically to restore blood flow to your extremities. Also drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.
2. Get Moving
If you’ve been injured or suffered an illness that has forced you into prolonged bed rest, it’s important that you get up and move around as soon as it’s medically safe to do so. DVT isn’t the only condition that can develop after long periods of inactivity, so the odds are that your doctor is equally anxious to get you moving around as quickly as possible.
3. Shed the Weight
If you have weight issues, you can add DVT to the list of health complications that can arise because of extra pounds. People who are overweight or obese have more circulatory problems because of the added pressure on their blood vessels. A good weight loss program can help prevent clots from forming in your veins, as well as greatly improve your circulation.
4. Know your Family and your Risks
If you have extenuating health circumstances, you should pay close attention to your risk factors. For example, if you have a family history of blood clotting disorders, it’s important that you have a vascular specialist like Dr. Naar check you out.
In fact, the CDC estimates that 5 to 8% of the population in the U.S. has one of a few known genetic risk factors, which are known as inherited thrombophilias. These genetic defects put you at far greater risk of DVT than the rest of the population.
The bottom line is that the more you know about your health and your risks, the better armed you are to fight off complications like DVT.
5. Take Action
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of DVT (pain, swelling, discoloration), please make an appointment with Dr. Naar sooner rather than later. When it comes to DVT, time is of the essence in order to prevent far more serious consequences from developing.
If you’ve had DVT in the past, the odds are stacked against you: The CDC reports that one-third of people with DVT will have a recurrence within 10 years.
If you’d like to understand better whether you’re at risk for deep vein thrombosis and how you can prevent it, please give us a call. You can also request a consultation by using the online booking form.