Blood clots, which are diagnosed as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE) are a very dangerous condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and damage to the lungs. If large enough, the PE type of blood clot can block blood from getting to your lunges, which causes your lungs to fail, which is quickly fatal.
The more optimistic news from a medical point of view is that DVT blood clots can be treated if caught in time, as doctors can prescribe medication that lowers blood viscosity, which can help dissolve the blood clot. Secondly, there are a variety of steps you can take to reduce the chances of developing a blood clot. And, more good news, you can discuss with your physician the option of having surgery to remove the blood clot.
DVT types of blood clots usually occur in deep veins in the legs, the pelvis, and sometimes in the arm. The danger of clots is that they can starve tissues of blood flow, which provide oxygen, nutrients, and other necessities to various parts of the body. A large clot that reaches blocks off blood flow to your lungs can result in long-term damage to your lungs or it can be quickly fatal if blood flow comes to a halt.
That said, while chances of survival have improved with modern medicines and techniques, between 33 percent and 50 percent of persons who develop a DVT are expected to develop complications from the DVT event. These complications include damage to the veins – most critically to valves in the vein – that creates a condition called post-thrombotic syndrome. This condition can include painful swelling, water retention, pain, and discoloration. It can also create changes in your skin, most often with dry scaly skin, and with internal ulcers.
Besides the other complications that come with a DVT event, there is the bad news that a DVT event also puts you at higher risk for future DVT incidents. Other risk factors include”
A physical injury to a vein precipitated by a bone fracture, a muscle injury, surgery and other events that cause internal scarring
Slow blood flow precipitated by long episodes of staying in bed (while healing from various ailments or other reasons) limited movement caused by having to wear a cast, for example, and paralysis. Also, sitting for long periods with your legs crossed can increase your risks.
Various chemotherapy treatments for cancer
- High levels of estrogen over long periods (often by taking birth control pills)
- Heart disease
- Lung diseases, such as emphysema
- Lower bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease)
- Family with a history of DVT
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Age (the older you become, the higher your risk
- Use of prostheses, such as a stent for your heart or a catheter place close to a deep vein
Lowering Your Risk of A DVT
Let’s see if we can balance out the risk factors with a list of risk reducers. Some lifestyle changes help lower your risk of DVT. Here are a few. Ask your doctor for other recommendations.
After confinement either sitting or lying for long periods, while recovering from surgery, for example, get up and move around as soon as you can. Get that blood flowing as they say – only now it’s for real. Get that blood flowing!
Wear what is called a graduated compression stocking that promotes better blood flow
Exercise, especially after an extended period sitting (in your car, for example). It is recommended that you take a break every two hours and stimulate blood flow with a vigorous walk for ten minutes or so. If that’s too stringent, walk for five minutes … or walk every three hours. You get the idea.
- Loose weight
- Stop smoking
- Cut back to safe levels of alcohol intake
Find exercises you can do while sitting at a computer or watching television. For example, do 20 toe lifts followed by 20 heel lifts. Repeat that often. Sitting still promotes DVT events, while movement reduces your risk.
A PE event (pulmonary embolism) can hit quick and creates a very critical medical emergency. Like having a stroke or a heart attack (both of which can be brought on by a blood clot) a PE event is one of the top causes of sudden death.
While the symptoms are also critical, being aware of the symptoms might help you remember to get medical attention as quickly as possible. The symptoms to look for include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Redness of the skin
A fast or irregular heartbeat (as your heart struggles to get enough oxygen for itself and other tissues.
For top injury care in the Tempe, Arizona, area, call the FXRX clinic for an appointment. Dial 480-449-FXRX.