Regular walks can prevent deep vein thrombosis condition
Posted Wednesday, September 19 2012 at 01:00
- Symptoms include sudden and unexplained shortness of breath and severe chest pain
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the lower legs, arms, thighs, or pelvis. It commonly affects the lower legs, and the presence of a clot in these major veins leads to blockage, causing pain, redness, and warmth in the affected limb.
There are several risk factors involved in the formation of a major clot, and these include; damage on the inside of a blood vessel through trauma or previous surgery, hypercoagulability, where blood is more likely than usual to clot, and partial or complete blockage of blood flow.
These factors can be caused by the following: prolonged sitting, prolonged bed rest or immobility, as happens during illness, fractures of the bones of the hip, thigh, or lower legs, obesity, heart attack or heart failure, recent childbirth, birth control pills, cancer, old age, and most importantly, a previous history of DVT.
Limb that is swollen, painful, red, and warm to the touch. Leg pain that worsens on bending the foot. Leg cramps, especially at night, and bluish or whitish discolouration of skin. However, some individuals with deep vein thrombosis do not have any symptoms.
Treatment of DVT involves the use of blood-thinning medications to prevent further clot formation and to minimise the risk of the blood clot breaking off and travelling to the lungs, a factor that may cause pulmonary embolism.
This is the main complication of DVT and a major source of death. Treatment may be offered on outpatient or inpatient basis depending on the severity of the disease and other underlying risk factors such as pregnancy.
The duration of treatment may take between three months to several years, depending on severity and the risk factors present. Although rare, surgery may be considered for patients who cannot take blood thinners, or who have developed other clots while on medication.
It is extremely important to prevent DVT in the first place. This can be managed by reducing any present risk factors. If taking a long plane ride, take regular walks, and if you have undergone surgery, make an effort to start moving as soon as possible.
Also, women should avoid high dose estrogen unless absolutely necessary, and only when instructed by a doctor. Those undergoing major surgery may be given preventive treatment to avoid formation of a clot. Those completely immobile may also have specialised compression devices placed on their legs to avoid clotting.
A major complication of DVT is pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a clot, commonly from the leg, breaks off and travels through the blood stream to block a major artery in the lungs.
This blockage may cause permanent damage to the affected lung or low oxygen levels in blood. If the clot is large, or there are many, pulmonary embolism will usually lead to death.
It is the second major cause of sudden death and in half the cases, may not cause any symptoms. Common symptoms include sudden and unexplained shortness of breath, severe chest pain on inhaling and exhaling, similar to a heart attack, and a cough that may produce blood-stained sputum.
Most patients who die from pulmonary embolism do so within the first few hours of the onset of symptoms. It is unfortunate that despite advancement in medicine, it is still difficult to diagnose pulmonary embolism readily, hence prevention of DVT is the mainstay of preventing the condition.