According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) are a major public health problem in the United States. Estimates suggest that 300,000 to 600,000 Americans have DVT/PE each year, and that 60, 000 to 100,000 people die as a result. Many of those who have a DVT or PE also have complications that can greatly impact their quality of life.
Everybody should know the risk factors, symptoms, and steps they can take to protect themselves.
Factors that Increase the Risk of Developing DVT Include:
- Major surgery
- Immobility, such as being in the hospital and long travel
- Recent injury
- Increased estrogen, from pregnancy and certain medications
- Certain chronic medical illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer
- Previous DVT
- Age (risk increases as age increases)
About half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all. For those who do have symptoms, the following are the most common and occur in the affected part of the body (usually the leg):
- Redness of the skin
- Hard to breathe
- Faster than normal heart beat
- Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
- Cough up blood
- Very low blood pressure or lightheadedness, or black out
If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately.
The following tips can help prevent DVT:
- Move around as soon as possible after having been confined to bed, such as after surgery, illness, or injury.
- If you’re at risk for DVT, talk to your doctor about:
- Graduated compression stockings (sometimes called “medical compression stockings”)
- Medication (anticoagulants) to prevent DVT.
- When sitting for long periods of time, such as when traveling for more than four hours:
- Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours.
- Exercise your legs while you’re sitting by:
- Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
- Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
- Tightening and releasing your leg muscles
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Drink plenty of water, and avoid drinking anything with alcohol or caffeine in it.
- Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t smoke.