March is National Blood Clot Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to consider the deep vein, the origination of a blood clot, and learn the signs of deep vein thrombosis. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more Americans die annually from blood clots and related complications than from motor vehicle accidents, HIV and breast cancer, combined.
The main canal in the process of returning blood back to your heart from your legs is the deep vein. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot occurring in your deep veins. When a blood clot breaks loose, it travels upward with your blood and then can get lodged, obstructing blood flow to your lungs. This event is known as a pulmonary embolism and can be fatal, with an estimated 300,000 deaths occurring in the United States each year.
Obtaining emergency medical attention can help you survive deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism, but you need to know the signs of a blood clot which include:
Swelling of the leg at the site of the clot
50 percent of patients also experience leg pain, and 75 percent experience tenderness
Warmth or reddish color on the skin at the site of the clot
Shortness of breath or problems breathing, chest pain and coughing
You should particularly be aware of the signs of a blood clot if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
Surgery, trauma or any other event causing injury to the wall of the vein
Prolonged bed rest, travel (with travel time greater than four hours), hospitalization, or any other event that results in the sluggish flow of blood through the veins.
Tobacco use, obesity, certain medical conditions or medications, or any other condition that contributes to the thickening of the blood.
If you suffer from a blood clot or clots, your diagnosis will be conducted using imaging studies, including ultrasound and CT scans.
It’s important to note that prevention is, by far, the preferred approach. Understanding the risk factors listed above and taking care to reduce them when possible is important for reducing the occurrence of blood clots. If deep vein thrombosis occurs, your treatment may include anticoagulant medication, “clot busting” agents and, in rare cases, surgery.
If you suspect that you are experiencing deep vein thrombosis, seek medical attention immediately.
To learn more about deep vein thrombosis and reducing your risk factors for blood clots, make an appointment at Nellestein Vein Institute. We look forward to answering your questions and helping you make healthy decisions for beautiful, clot-free veins.