Nearly 2 million cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and 600,000 cases of pulmonary embolism (PE) occur each year. Complications of DVT kill more Americans than AIDS and breast cancer combined. Death can occur suddenly with little or no chance for treatment—many people die in the first hour.
DVT occurs when a blood clot forms inside a vein; it is a common, preventable and treatable condition. When blood circulation slows due to injury, illness or reduced movement, blood can gather or “pool” offering an ideal environment for clot formation and increased risk of developing DVT. Although it usually develops in the leg and can block the flow of blood through the vein, a clot can also travel to the lungs resulting in a life-threatening PE.
Often there are no signs or symptoms and they can be hard to detect. Signs may include:
- Rapid swelling of the extremity
- Extremity feels warm to the touch
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
- Unexplained pain or tenderness—usually only in one extremity—that may be present when standing or walking
DVT can occur in almost anyone, but certain people may be more at risk. Some factors that may increase your risk include:
- Age 40 years or older
- Surgery—especially hip, knee or abdominal surgery
- Restricted mobility due to a long illness or surgery
- Certain heart problems
- Cancer and its treatment
- Personal or family history of blood clots
- Being overweight
- Respiratory failure
- Varicose veins
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
Please talk with your doctor if you feel you are at risk for DVT.
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