Death of Dwayne Johnson's Father Serves as a Reminder of the Danger of DVT
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently revealed that his father died of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in his leg that led to a fatal heart attack.
The recent death of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father of deep vein vein thrombosis (DVT) underscores the seriousness of this blood-clotting disorder. In January, the actor revealed his father, 75-year-old Rocky Johnson, developed a blood clot in his leg that traveled to his lung and caused a fatal heart attack.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 100,000 Americans die each year from DVT. If not treated early, DVT can result in sudden death, usually from a pulmonary embolism (PE) in the lungs. Knowing the warning signs of DVT and seeking immediate medical treatment is necessary to prevent a life-threatening situation such as the one suffered by the elder Johnson.
What is DVT?
DVT is the term given to a blood clot that forms within a deep vein in the leg. Among the symptoms of DVT are pronounced swelling in the affected leg, a reddish tint to the skin, a warm feeling when the skin is touched, pain, and cramping. If you experience any of those symptoms, you should visit a doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment, which will begin with a prescription for a blood thinner to keep the clot from growing larger. Larger clots may require the use of medication that will break up the clot.
The potentially life-threatening danger of DVT arises when the clot breaks away and lodges in the lungs, causing a PE. A PE produces a number of severe symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid pulse, a lightheaded feeling, and bringing up blood when coughing. Immediate medical intervention in an emergency room is required to treat a PE.
What Causes DVT?
DVT can occur when the circulation in the leg veins slow. This causes blood cells to clump together and form a clot. Sitting for long periods of time, such as during a plane ride or when bedridden after surgery, impedes blood flow and creates the conditions necessary for a blood clot to form.
Other factors that could lead to a blood clot range from an inherited clotting disorder and chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and heart failure to smoking and being overweight. Pregnancy and taking oral contraceptives also increase the risk of a blood clot.
Another risk factor for DVT are varicose veins, which also stem from improper blood circulation in the legs. When blood flows down to the legs from the heart, it’s pumped back with the help of tiny valves that push the blood upward. If those valves weaken, blood pools within the leg veins, causing the vein to bulge out and appear as a varicose vein. A recent study done in Taiwan concluded having varicose veins multiplies the chance of DVT by approximately 5 times. Therefore, treating varicose veins may also prevent the onset of DVT.
Even if you have risk factors for DVT, you can take precautions to prevent blood clots. Here are four simple tips to maintain your vein health.
Stay Active. Lack of exercise is a major contributor to poor circulation that could lead to DVT. Simple exercises such as walking and biking engage the calf muscles, which, in turn, helps the veins pump blood.
Make Lifestyle Changes. Carrying excess pounds puts extra pressure on the veins and slows circulation. By exercising and maintaining your ideal weight, you promote good blood flow. If you smoke — stop. Cigarettes contain chemicals that damage blood vessels; eventually, that damage could cause clots.
Don’t Sit For Too Long. Whether you’re at your desk or all day or seated on a long plane flight, remember to get up often to stretch your legs. Or, you can flex your ankles to ensure the blood keeps flowing.
Wear Compression Stockings. Available in drugstores or by prescription, these tight elastic garments squeeze the leg veins so blood doesn’t have a chance to pool in the vein. When planning a long plane or car ride, wearing a pair of compression stockings reduces the chance of DVT.
Treating DVT and Varicose Veins
Here at the Center for Vein Restoration, we’re experts in treating venous disorders such as DVT and varicose veins. We’ll assess your risk of DVT and recommend treatment methods to prevent potentially dangerous blood clots. If you suffer from varicose veins, we can also recommend one of several minimally invasive procedures that erase those unsightly and painful bulging veins. Contact us today for an appointment.