Did you know that the month of March is designated as Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month? The medical community for a good reason aims to bring awareness to the side effects and complications of DVT which kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year, most of whom never knew that they had the disease until it was too late. So in this article from our Covington vein clinic, we’re going to try to raise awareness now of DVT, how it is diagnosed, and how you can prevent it.
What exactly IS deep vein thrombosis?
DVT is a medical condition in which the deep veins of the legs become damaged as the result of disease, medications, injury during surgeries, or other causes, and as a result blood clots (thrombi) begin to form along the walls of these veins. These clots present a health problem even if they remain where they formed, because they block circulation, restrict proper blood flow, and weaken your immune system. But the real danger of DVT occurs when the blood clots break loose from their original location and travel through the veins to other areas.
If the clots travel to your brain, they can cause a stroke, and if they travel to your lungs they can cause a pulmonary embolism, or PE. This latter complication of DVT is so common that doctors refer to it with a single acronym: DVT/PE. It is considered a “silent killer” because most of the people who die from it every year didn’t even know that they had the disease.
Symptoms of DVT that New Orleans residents should be aware of
We should start with the Bad News – over half of DVT cases present no overt symptoms that you would notice. If they occur, they are one of the following:
Heavy aching in the affected legs, along with chronic leg fatigue.
Pain or tenderness in one or both legs while standing or walking.
Swelling in one or both legs, usually in the calf.
Red, discolored skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee.
Patches of warmth on the skin surface of the affected leg; visible surface veins
Risk factors for DVT
Because these symptoms don’t always appear, when Louisiana vein doctors assess your likelihood of developing DVT they usually focus on a number of risk factors. Two DVT risk factors that you can’t do anything about are being over the age of 50 and having a family history of vein disease. Risk factors that you can do something about include smoking, being overweight, and inactivity (especially sitting too much). If these latter risk factors are present in your life, you should take steps to reduce them – stop smoking, lose weight, and get more exercise. If your job requires you to sit all day, make sure to take periodic breaks every hour or so to improve your circulation, and walk briskly at least 30 minutes a day.
How do I know for sure if I have DVT or are at high risk of developing it?
The best way to be certain is to schedule an appointment with a trusted vein specialist in New Orleans like Dr. Randall S. Juleff. In only about an hour he can detect any signs of DVT if you have it, or assess your risk of developing DVT if you don’t have it. If it turns out that you do have DVT, don’t worry, because the condition can be safely and easily treated using minimally-invasive procedures that don’t require general anesthesia or incisions. So get proactive about DVT by giving us a call at our vein clinic or go online to schedule. It could literally save your life.