About Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Dangerous blood clots form in the leg veins of over 2.5 million Americans each year. According to the American Heart Association, about 600,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which a blood clot forms in a leg vein. DVT, with its risk of pulmonary embolism (PE), may be the most preventable cause of death among people hospitalized today in the United States. Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. It mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh. DVTs are most common in adults over age 60, but can occur at any age. Blood is more likely to clot in someone who has conditions or habits like:
- Autoimmune disorders such as lupus
- Cigarette smoking
- Taking estrogens or birth control pills
DVT is a major cause of secondary venous insufficiency. Thus, individuals that have a history of DVT have a high likelihood of having concomitant superficial venous disease. Evaluation by a vein specialist is recommended if they experience continued swelling, pain, heaviness or fatigue in their legs. Chronic venous insufficiency that develops as a result of DVT is also known as post-thrombotic syndrome. As many as 30 percent of people with DVT will develop this problem within 10 years after diagnosis. Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) may develop following DVT in up to two thirds of those affected. Pain and leg swelling often limit normal activities. Chronic venous insufficiency can cause varicose veins, leg edema, leg pain, chronic skin changes and non-healing ulcers. These problems may make it difficult to sit or stand for long periods, and make it difficult to work at home or on the job.
Air travel and DVT
One large group identified as “at risk” are airline passengers. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that 815.3 million scheduled passengers traveled on U.S. airlines and on foreign airlines serving the United States in 2012. Air passengers are at risk even if they are only on short flights lasting just a few hours, research reveals. DVT, the so-called “economy class syndrome”, occurs when travelers are immobile for many hours, often in cramped conditions.
Reducing the risk of travel-related DVT
During your trip
- Exercise calf and foot muscles regularly.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Elastic compression stockings can help to prevent travel-related DVT in people who have a high to moderate risk. Stockings (or ‘flight socks’) can be purchased from pharmacies, or online from retailers that sell travel-related clothing and accessories.
Get tested to be safe
Physicians can diagnose DVT by examining a patient’s health, medical history, and symptoms, as well as performing a physical exam. However, because DVT symptoms are shared by many other conditions, a special test – Duplex Ultrasound – can rule out other problems or confirm a diagnosis. During this test, high-frequency sound waves produce images of blood vessels and sometimes the blood clots, as well. Painless and noninvasive, ultrasound tests require no radiation, and are performed by the vein doctors at Center for Vein Restoration to obtain accurate results.
If you believe that you, or someone you know, may be experiencing DVT, please schedule an appointment at one of our locations today.