March is DVT Awareness Month!
Maybe you have heard horror stories about people who develop a DVT blood clot after surgery or after being in the hospital for an extended period. Most recently there has been a rise in reported DVT blood clots due to hospitalizations connected with COVID-19. But what exactly is DVT, what are the rick factors, how can you prevent getting a DVT blood clot, and what signs or symptoms should you be on the lookout for?
What is DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition in which a blood clot forms deep in the tissues of a person’s body. They usually form in the lower leg or thigh but they can also form in other areas of the body. It is common to see DVTs after injuries or surgeries that cause a person to have reduced or limited mobility. They can also form because of certain medications or birth controls.
It is important for people to know their risk factors for DVT and make sure that their doctors and caretakers are aware of them as well. Some of the more common risk factors include:
- Being older than 60 years old. (Note: DVTs can occur at any age, but are more common after 60.)
- Injury or surgery
- Sitting for long periods of time or being on bedrest
- Being overweight or obese
- Diseases like cancer or heart failure
- Family history of DVT or Pulmonary Embolism
It is also very important for people to understand that DVT is not “just a blood clot”. It can have serious complications–including death.
Here are some ways to prevent DVT:
- Avoid sitting still. Exercise your legs regularly.
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Follow all of your doctors instructions and heed their warnings about what to look for and when to seek further treatment after an injury or surgical procedure.
Common signs and symptoms of a DVT blood clot include:
- Swelling in the affected leg.
- Pain in your leg, like a soreness or cramping.
- Red or discolored skin on the leg.
- A warmth in the affected leg.
If you have any of these, set up an appointment to see your primary care physician.