Federal Awareness Campaign
In September of 2008, Dr. Steven Galston, the acting Surgeon General, issued a Call to Action to urge all Americans to learn about and prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism) which are both treatable conditions. Deep vein thrombosis affects up to 600,000 people yearly and results in death of 100,000 Americans from pulmonary embolism. Dr. Galson, in his “call to action” states “I don’t think most people understand that this is a serious medical problem or what can be done to prevent it,”
The people, who are at a greater risk for a DVT, even though they are healthy, include those who are:
- On contraceptive or hormone therapy
- Recovering from a recent surgery or trauma
- Have chronic heart disease
- Have varicose veins
- Have a history of blood clots
- Travel on long trips by airplane or by other means where movement is restricted for a long period of time
So what is a Deep Vein Thrombosis and how is a DVT formed?
A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs. The DVT, although serious, can be treated by your physician. DVT’s are most common in sedentary situations such as being bed ridden for long periods of time. To begin with, the human body has three types of blood veins. The blood flow leaving the heart travels in the deep vein system within the body. The blood then flows through the perforating veins (veins which connect the deep vein system to the superficial vein system). The perforating veins contain one way valves which force the blood back to the heart and keep it from flowing backwards. If these valves are damaged or the blood flow impeded, a DVT can form in the lower leg or thigh. When a blood clot is formed, it can caused permanent damage to the vein walls and the one way valves. The blood clot, left untreated, can be life threatening. A piece of the clot can break loose and cause a pulmonary embolism (obstruction of the pulmonary artery causing stoppage of blood flow to the lungs) sometimes resulting in death. Please remember, a DVT can be treated. If you are experiencing pain, redness, heat, or skin discoloration in your leg consult a physician for treatment immediately. Also, seek professional advice on preventable measures, including the amount of compression to wear in support stockings.
Age is not a limiting factor in DVT and PE
- Exercise your legs regularly when sitting or laying for a long period of time. This can be a simple as making figure 8’s with your feet, or walking for just a few minutes.
- When sitting, stretch your legs and change position frequently
- Breathe deeply frequently.
- Elevate your legs whenever possible.
- Be careful about leg rest that compress the calf or behind the knee.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake (it dehydrates the body).
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wear loose, non-binding clothes when traveling
- Wear compression stockings or support socks.
DVT and PE can strike men and women of all ages and walks of life with relative little warning. So keep a friend or loved one healthy tell them about DVT and how to prevent it by wearing compression stockings and compression hose and following our tips…
Compression support stockings help prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities and can minimize the risk of a DVT. Other things you can do to help prevent a DVT include: