I find it very interesting that we all fear diseases such as cancer, AIDS and even being in an auto accident, but few of us have a fear of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE). We really should. Blood clots from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) cause more deaths than breast cancer, AIDS AND motor vehicle accidents combined. DVT’s are preventable.
There are certain people and certain times in our lives when we have increased risk of DVT. The most common risk factors include:
- Prior family history of DVT’s
- Travel – especially long distances with little or no movement
- Over 40 years of age
- Over weight or obesity
Blood clots are usually formed in the deep veins of usually lower extremities (although it can occur anywhere in the body). When this happens, a piece of the clot can break loose and travel through the blood stream to the lung. This is a potentially life-threatening complication of DVT.
The symptoms of DVT may not be noticeable. There may be some pain in the muscle, some swelling, sudden onset of discoloration (bluish, purplish or reddish skin color) and that part of the body may feel warmer. This is not the time to wait. You should visit your primary care physician immediately.
Symptoms of PE can be dramatic. There may be shortness of breath, chest pain (which may become worse with a deep breath), unexplained cough (with or without blood) or unexplained rapid heart rate. This is the time you should go to the emergency room immediately!
More to come next week,