About 2 million people experience DVT each year. It can affect anyone (male or female),at any age without warning. Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism (DVT/PE) are often under diagnosed. They are serious, but preventable medical conditions. It is to your advantage if you know DVT risk factors. Some of the factors you can change and some of them you cannot.
Injury to a vein, often caused by:
- Severe muscle injury
- Major surgery (especially of the abdomen, pelvis, hip, or legs)
- Slow blood flow, often caused by:
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes used after menopause
- Pregnancy, for up to 6 weeks after giving birth
Certain Chronic medical illnesses:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Cancer and its treatment
- Inflammatory bowl disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
Other facts that increase the risk of DVT include:
- Previous DVT or PE
- Family history of DVT or PE
- Age (risk increases as age increases)
- A catheter located in a central vein
- Inherited clotting disorders
- Varicose veins
The more risk factors you have, the greater are your chances of developing a DVT. Change the risk factors you can to give yourself a better chance of not developing a DVT. If you have a muscle injury or you are scheduled for surgery, discuss the option of wearing a 20-30 mmHg support stockings or support socks to prevent the DVT. When Rod and I have surgery we discuss this with our surgeons and receive their approval to bring our own 20-30 mmHg garments (which we know fit correctly) rather than wear their TEDS!
If you have a sedate lifestyle or sit behind a computer, get up and move around at least once an hour. WALK!! WALK!! WALK!! If you have surgery, get up and move as soon as your physician gives you permission. Sometimes that is even the same day as surgery. According to a study from Oxford University, patients recovering from surgery are at a high risk of DVT for much longer than previously thought. In this study, it was found the likelihood of a patient to need hospital treatment for a DVT was 70 time higher than the norm. For those who had day surgery, the risk was 10 times higher than the norm. The danger was highest in the third week post-op, but continued for around 12 weeks.
If you are pregnant, start wearing support hose as soon as you learn of your pregnancy (learning to put them on during your first trimester helps you to put them on in that last trimester) and continue to wear them for at least 6 weeks after delivery. Besides the hormonal changes going on, there is also the weight of the baby on the saphenous veins which can cause decreased blood flow and the risk of DVT. Maternity panty hose not only increase the flow of blood by using gradient compression, but also lift the baby up off the veins and to some degree help the back.
Help keep your friends or loved ones in good health, tell them about DVT and how to prevent in by wearing compression hose or compression socks.
Here are a few tips to help you and your loved ones stay healthy:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you smoke, quite. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones.
- Exercise your legs regularly when sitting or laying for long periods of time…This can be as simple as making figure 8’s with your feet or just walk for a few minutes.
- When sitting, stretch you legs and change position frequently.
- Take a deep breath frequently.
- Elevate you legs whenever possible.
- Be careful about chairs and leg rests 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.
- If you have family members with multiple DVT’s and they have been diagnosed as having a clotting disorder, consider being tested yourself.
- If you are having surgery, discuss the possibility of DVT with your surgeon. Many are pleased that you are proactive.
- If you are pregnant, wear compression stockings during your pregnancy and for 6 weeks postpartum.
- Above all…wear compression stockings or compressions socks to increase you circulation
Let’s all get out there and let our friends know about DVT,