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March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This month marks the 7th annual Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month. The Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis is working diligently to make more people aware of this potentially life-threatening condition.

While many of us are unfamiliar with the complications involving deep-vein thrombosis, each year almost 2 million people are afflicted with this condition and of that number 300,000 succumb to a more serious side effect known as a pulmonary embolism. By making the public aware of the risks and symptoms of this condition, treatment can be sought early enough to prevent further complications.

So what exactly is a deep-vein thrombosis?

A deep-vein thrombosis, also known as a DVT, is a blood clot that occurs deep within the vein usually in the lower extremities, especially the calves and thighs; however, they can occur anywhere within the body. If the blood clot breaks off and makes its way to the lungs, it can block the flow of blood within the lungs. This condition is known as a pulmonary embolism and if not treated, it can lead to death.

What causes a DVT and who is most at risk?

Anyone can be at risk for developing a DVT, however, those individuals over the age of 60 are at a greater risk than those much younger.

Risk factors that can lead to a DVT include:
  • Surgery or injury, such as a broken bone or trauma
  • Individuals who are immobile, especially those confined to bed
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Individuals traveling by car, train or plane for extended periods of time
  • Pregnancy, especially in the third trimester and immediately following delivery
  • Individuals suffering from cancer or heart failure
  • Women taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Obesity
What are some of the symptoms of a DVT
  • Swelling of the lower leg
  • Pain in the leg when walking or standing or when the foot is flexed
  • Redness and/or warmth to the area
  • Should you develop a pulmonary embolism from a DVT, you may experience shortness of breath, rapid pulse, pain when deep breathing and/or coughing up blood
Now that you know the risk factors and symptoms of a DVT, what are some preventative measures you can take to prevent this condition.

Preventative measures include:
  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting up every hour from your desk
  • Avoid crossing your legs
  • Talking with your doctor before any surgery about plans for getting you up and moving after your surgery. Getting out of bed and walking as soon as possible after surgery may help prevent development of a DVT
  • Keeping well hydrated, especially when traveling
  • If traveling by car, stopping frequently and walking
  • If traveling by plane, getting up every hour or so and walk up and down the aisle
  • Talk with your doctor about wearing compression hose when traveling
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption when traveling
  • Moving your legs by flexing your toes, pushing down on the balls of your feet when sitting
Awareness is the first step in detecting and preventing this condition. If caught early enough, it can be treated without further complications. It is important not to ignore any pain in the leg, particularly if the pain is associated with redness and/or swelling. Seeking early intervention is essential with this condition. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding this condition, especially if you are traveling or will be experiencing prolonged periods of immobility.

Have you or someone you know ever suffered from a DVT? Were you are aware of the high rate of occurrence with this condition?

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I had never heard about this, but I just lost an aunt to this, ironically, in March. She was obese and did travel quite a bit. She was 59. Report
I don't know anyone who has had this, but I appreciate the reminder because I need to get up and move around since I stay at home and am a caregiver for my mother. I also must get her up and moving also! Thanks! Gigi Report
I'm glad to know that this month is awareness. I had quite a bit of swelling in my legs and feet (they're still a little swelling) but I've been getting up and walking around when I feel uncomfortable. When it was a little colder I would set the timer for 30 minutes and then again for 5 minutes to walk around. I have improved and increased my walking. Report
I was diagnosed with Factor V/Leiden's after I had a blood clot in my leg after 2 months on birth control. It did mean that I was a high risk pregnancy and had to start injectable blood thinners when I was pregnant (heparin the first pregnancy, lovenox the other 2). But my hematologist thought that since my DVT was due to the birth control, they didn't put me on life-long anticoagulants until this past September when I had my 2nd DVT. It has been hard for me to deal with as it does kinda feel like your body is your enemy, but except for some restrictions to diet (gotta watch out for Vitamin K!) and pain relievers (no Naprosin or ibuprofen while on anticoagulants), there are very few other aspects of my life that have been affected. Please, always fall on the cautious side! and if you have a consistent pain, especially in your lower extremities, that isn't going away, get it checked out and ask your doctor about the possitiblity of a DVT. Report
I had it too when i was 19 years old, after 6 months of taking birth control. 1 had been in hospital for 2 weeks, and I had to take pill for a year to make my blood thinner (more liquid). I had a test for inheritance (because my grandma had 3 times), but it was not because of it, so i can put down the pills. I'm healthy now, and i take control blood test every 6 monts. I almost forget it thank God, because i have been so lucky! :) Report
Had heard about this. Thank you for information about it. It pays to be knowledgable,for yourself and your family. Report
What is so interesting about these comments is the huge diversity of experiences! I had a DVT in my calf several years ago due to a change in birth control meds. But DVT's didn't scare me; my dad has had several in has calf since he was 41 years old (and he's 89 now) and two of my brothers have had DVT's in their legs as well. What was scary was that just a couple months ago, my sister had a Pulmonary Embolism. While I have had no problems with blood clots since (I was on coumadin for 6 months and then was put on aspirin 81mg) I appreciate the information on PE's so I can watch for that. Report
I nearly lost my mother to DVT in her leg and abdomen, she started out with just a minor ache in her leg, she was a sales clerk and stood for 8 hours a day. She ended up losing her job and retiring and hates wearing the stocking but will have to for the rest of her life. I have a sister who had three miscarriages and should be checked for the factor, think I'll give her a call and tell her about this, Thanks for the input, I was tested and don't have the factor in my blood but is it possible to develop it later on? Report
Great blog, thanks! I was diagnosed in 2005 with Factor V Leiden like many others who have commented on this blog. After having back surgery I was immobile for a while, got my first clot, started taking blood thinners for it and five months later got a second clot in the same leg! My doctor had my DNA tested and found out I had Factor V. Just a finger prick test of your blood is not good enough when you have Factor V to adjust your blood thinner medications, so now blood is drawn from my veins every four weeks to check and adjust my blood thinner medication. Didn't know I had this when I was young and on birth control and trying to have babies. Factor V Leiden is a genetic blood disorder that I had from birth. I had many miscarriages and that is a complication of the disorder. DVT should not be taken lightly. All ages can be affected by DVT and the other many blood disorders out there. Be sure to get someone to take your leg pain seriously and check for clots. Report
I had DVT 13 years ago. The only risk factor that I had was obesity and a somewhat sedentary lifestyle. Though it is cleared up I have had venous ulcers twice that the Drs say are a result of this. My last one started before Thanksgiving and just got done with treatment in mid February but will have to wear support hose probably for the rest of my life.
At first I thought the DVT was just a pulled muscle but after a few days of no improvement and extreme pain when trying to walk, I went to a Dr and got treatment. he warned that it could have led to a stroke or heart attack so now I am more cautious of leg pain. Report
A very good friend of mine had complications from swelling in her leg. Report
My husband had a blood clot in his leg as a result of being hit by a car when he was bicycling. He'd been in the hospital for 2+ weeks already, was just transferred to a rehabilitation center when the clot became apparent. Back to the hospital!! Fortunately cumadin took care of the clot and he recovered fine. Made me very aware how dangerous these can be! Report
I have had two DVTs in my life, the first time attributed to flying, a sedentary job and birth control when I was 27. The second was during pregnancy, but with my maternal Aunt also having a history, my doctor felt blood work was in order. It was good that he didn't just write it off as due to pregnancy- turns out I have a congenital blood disorder which makes my blood thicker and more likely to clot. The conditions were right when the DVTs actually developed. (I saw a physician seminar where it was stated about 70% of the population has some sort of disorder and does not know it or never actually develops the blood clot). I am now on blood thinners the rest of my life- but at least it was diagnosed before I had my first heart attack or stroke. This is a serious condition, any time you have signs or symptoms without a known reason, get it checked out! Report
WOW! I had no idea this was so serious! I'm one of those people who figure "it'll just go away" on its own, so probably wouldn't think too much of a pain in my leg. Now, if it ever happens, I'll take it seriously, VERY seriously. Report
This is serious, never ignore leg pain especially if you take birth control. I did and nearly lost my leg. I fight every day of my life to keep my leg and have been for the last 16 years (March of 1994) Report
Don't know if it was DVT but...had lower leg and foot swelling after my first marathon. Picked up compression hose for after long runs, marathons, ultras and long trips.

I believe marathons are also a risk factor. Esp. if traveling after the run. Report
My brother was very active on his job until he retired. After a lazy year of retirement he developed DVT's in his lungs and legs. Is now on coumadin for the rest of his life. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about DVTs until my older sister developed severe pain in her arm. After being checked out by the doctor we found out that she had a DVT in her arm. She was on coumadin for several months. She is now off coumadin but the DVT is still in her arm and has not moved. She cannot get her blood pressure taken on that arm or have blood drawn from that arm. This is a good article and I appreciate everyones input. Report
My husband had DVT post surgery and even though he was well aware of the risk and signs and symptoms he dismissed it as normal pain post surgery because he did a lot of walking that day instead of resting. As soon as I seen his leg we were off to the ER. All was fine after a few days on blood thinners. Report
I've never had DVT, but because I travel a lot by car for long distances (8 hours or more), I've been concerned about this. I'm thankful for the tips in the article to help prevent DVT, and I plan to implement them as I'm traveling. Report
Yes, I was in the hospital last August due to extensive bloodclots to both lungs. I've been on Coumadin for 6 mo. now and just had 12 viles of blood taken this week to run the test as to why I had the clots. They think it was caused to being on birth control pills too long plus we had just gone on 5 hour flight. After we got to AZ we then rented car to drive to different N. Parks. Again...too much sitting and not enough moving. Hopefully, after this weeks test I won't have to stay on medication any longer. Report
I fly a lot and consequently am very cognizant of DVT. Do not let pain or swelling in your legs go un noticed! Report
I was diagnosed with a DVT just after giving birth to my daughter in 88. It was probably due to the pill. I was diagnosed with a second one in 2005, in the summer. In Sept. it was discovered that I had a mass in my stomach. It ended up being an ovary that had ballooned up too the size of a sheet of paper and weighed 12# when taken out. The Dr. said that it had huge blood vessels feeding it. He had never seen any quite so large and twisted. Later in the fall I went to a specialist who tested me and found out that I tested positive for Factor V Leiden along with having homocysteine levels that were too high. Both are causes of DVT's. The Dr. felt because of both conditions I needed to be on coumadin forever. He did feel that both clots could be directly related to pregnancy and the mass in my stomach. Did just find out last fall that my Mom is a carrier of Factor V. Sometimes I forget to take the medicine and just try to remember not to miss two days in a row. Report
Thank you for sharing all this information and your personal experiences. I am a caregiver for my Mom and stay in the house. I don't get enough exercise. This will remind me to move constantly between TV commercials, and to get up from the computer/ sofa periodically. When my DH is watching TV in the living room, and I am doing the same in the bedroom, I get up and visit him during commercials. My chiropractic got me started doing this years ago. Gigi Report
I know 2 people affected by this. The 1st a co-worker that was on a driving business trip and in the middle of now where got horrible leg pain, he was able to get to the hospital but did lose his leg just above the knee.
The 2nd is my uncle just a few months ago. He fell at home somehow involving his dog(never got the whole story of what happened). He thought he was getting leg cramps and tried massaging them out. Luckily my aunt talked him into going to the hospital because he had at least 5 doctors tell him he was lucky to be alive. He's on blood thinners and doing fine. Report
I am being treated for pulmonary embolisms right now. I was in the hospital for 8 days--I'm now on oxygen 24/7 and on massive amounts of blood thinners ( which can cause medical problems on their own). Believe me this isn't a fun time in my life--if anyone even SUSPECTS they have a DVT please don't take any chances--get it checked out at once. Report
I had a dvt when i was 20 and it was due to a combo of smoking...birth control pill....and a leg injury that left me layed up......now im 38 and have recently had the Factor v Leiden test done for genetic blood disorder because both my father and aunt have recently had a dvt in their sixtys.....and guess what ....it was positive.....well that is an eye opener......I'm still waiting for an appt with a genetic councler to see what the next move will be......I stay pretty active and don't smoke anymore.....but I do worry about it . So i could end up taking coumadin for the rest of my life.....but you never know if it's in your genes until you get the test done. FYI Report
I have had four DVT's. The 1st one they put me on coumidon, after a few months they took me off coumidon and I had another DVT. Again after several months went off the coumidon. I got pregnant, and at 3 months got a DVT. Put me in the hospital, gave me a heparin IV. I ended up having a miscarriage. Off of coumidon I eventually had another DVT. Now I am on coumidon for life. Report
I travel by plane to Europe and beyond quite a bit. I am paranoid about getting up and moving around every hour. My husband and I really prefer 2 aisle seats so we can move more. I drink a lot of water and I only have 1 small cup of coffee for breakfast when traveling. Report
Yes I had a DVT, was in the hospital, and took coumdain for quite awhile. Now I take 325mg
asprin daily. It is good that spark is educating us on this!!1 Report
My coworker suffered from a DVT and it was a frightening experience for her. She still gets scared when she experiences leg pain (and rightfully so!). Because of her, I was aware of the high rate of occurrence of this condition, but I did not know all of the risk factors until I read this blog. Report
I worked with a girl a few years back who was about 17 years old who got that.
I remember her coming back to work after her bout in the hospital and telling me that when she stopped at the office to tell them what was up...One of the head honchos got mad thinking that she was just trying to get out of work for the week or so.
I was angry when I heard her say that. She was in tears!
I know all about DVT. I know a few people that when on holidays and sat for hours in the plane and then died within hours or days after touching down. Either at the holiday place or when they got back home.
I am glad that this article is going around.
Great artical,I now have to stop crossing my legs.! It's such a habit I have.

I had a DVT at age 26 during my pregnancy. I ended up in the hospital for 2 months & almost died after the baby was born due to hemoraging (because of the blood thinners). This was 11 years ago, and my leg still swells up every time I exercise. Report
I had a DVT at the age of 24, caused by birth control pills and the tremendous amount of stress I was under. I was depressed because my husband and I had separated, so I wasn't very active. That, and taking birth control pills led to my DVT. It was very scary. I was unaware of the risks involved, but now I am an expert. I spent 10 days in the hospital to get rid of the DVT and 3 of those days getting up and trying to walk. I had to walk with a cane for the first 3 weeks I was out of the hospital. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. I know my risks now are even greater, so I am taking better care of myself. DVT's are not to be taken lightly...my doctor told me I was too young to have one, but there I was. I know better now, and I do what I can to prevent any future DVT's. Report
My BIL died from one at age 40 after a fall at work and surgery. Scary!! Report
Thanks for posting this. I have numerous relatives who have had problems with this. Report
Having had multiple DVTS and a PE in 2001, I know all too well about the risks, pain, & recovery. I will be on Coumadin for the rest of my life (not fun). The 1st instance was misdiagnosed and I almost died. Remarkably enough while treating the PE as a seizure, they did a CT & found a brain tumor. If you experience any of these symptoms - don't wait to be seen by a doctor! One of the reasons I've gained so much weight since then is because of my inactive lifestyle (post surgery). It definitely is a catch-22 situation for some of us. Add in my fibromyalgia pain & It's hard to exercise. However, I know that I have to do whatever it takes to improve my overall health. Along with many others, I am living proof that you can survive both. Now the Spark is helping me & so many others to stay informed & positive. What a blessing to be part of such a special community. Report
I too suffered a pulmonary embolism after having my spleen removed, which is a common side effect of abdominal surgery. It was very painful and so scary. I ended up staying in the hospital for 3 weeks while they thinned my blood. I had to give myself hepprin shots several times a day for 6 months, before being switched to oral anti-coagulation pills. For the rest of my life I will never be able to travel, have surgery, or even have another child without going through the blood thinner experience. Once it happens to you it is a risk factor that will stay with you the rest of your life. Every thing you do, that can be effected by a clot, has to be weighed against the risk factors. Report
My Brother-in-law was just diagnosed with DVT. With him the swelling started in his arm. thank you for the informative article. Report
Twice I have suffered from DVT immediately following surgical procedures on my leg. The first time I could feel the focal pain but the second time I just felt an over all pain and didn't know that a large blood clot had moved from my calf to just above my knee and was ready to break loose. That landed my in the hospital for over a week while they thinned my blood. Needless to say, the doctors have decided should I ever again require surgery on my legs they will start me on blood thinners as soon as the surgical site is closed. Report
My father was diagnosed with DVT before there was such a term. 41 years ago, he suffered from two DVTs before they were diagnosed. They went through many tests, and really didn't know how to treat him. They elevated his legs, allowing the DVTs to travel to his heart and lungs.
Thankfully, they traveled into his lungs and stayed there. Eventually, he received an experimental "net" in his vena cava to prevent further travel of other clots. We have come a long way, baby, and I congratulate those of you who have survived. Report
I nearly lost my left leg to clots 11 years ago. The doctors managed to save my leg. It turns out I did have a genetic blood disorder and will be on blood thinners the rest of my life, but at least I'll be taking them with 2 legs! Report
I work for a Vascular Diagnostic Center as a Coordinator for the department. The fine folks that I work with specialize in the test used to diagnose DVT's. It seems we have a higher rate of young woman who get diagnosed with this disease due to the higher rate of people on birth control in my opinion since this is a side effect. Things like travel and sitting or laying around without a lot of movement is also a significant cuase of DVT. If you feel pain, have redness, or swelling I would urge you to consult your doctor. And when they say you need the test don't let other things keep you from getting the test. You should have the exam within a day or two of when the concern happents. The DVT can move from the veins and go to your lungs causing a PE which can result in death. I get really frustrated when patients need this exam and they keep putting it off because I care about people. Ok sorry, I will get off my pedestal now. Love you guys. Report
A friend's aunt took a cross country trip and didn't want to stop (except for bathroom breaks), drove straight through but didn't make it, they had been sitting in the car for 14 straight hours when she passed away from a clot from DVT. I never had read about it before this article, thanks! Report
I had a P.E. about 29 years ago it was the result of birth control pills.I was in the hospital for 3 weeks flat on my back until the blood clot desolved. The doctors didn't think that I would live. I have to use blood thinners after I have any kind of surgery. I also found that I am allergic to oral blood thinners ( I get a ichy red rash from head to toe). I had to give myself heprin shots for 6 weeks 3 times a day after I had my son. As a result of the P.E. I have never been able to use birth control pills or HRT. So, everyone please be carefull and get to a hospital as so as you think that you may have a DVT. It could save your life!!
I got one in my left lower leg after breaking my foot. It felt like a charley horse that wouldn't go away, and my doctor had me get an ultrasound on my leg but didn't think it was a DVT. I had to go to the ER and give myself shots for days, in my stomach, which was said to help prevent the clot from traveling above my knee. Then I had to be on blood thinners with regular blood draws for 6 months. Now I can't ever take birth control or be on HRT, and if I ever do get pregnant, I'll have a high-risk pregnancy. It has affected my life from now until I die. Report
My Uncle died suddenly when a embolism broke loose in his leg and blocked the blood flow to his heart. I also have a daughter who has a high risk of developing DVT. It is definitely not something to take lightly. Report
I had one following an arthroscopic surgery on my knee. Luckily, dr. had scheduled me to see him less than a week later. I went to him and described the pain and although he didn't think it was possible - I had no symptoms except the pain - he did send me to the hospital and I got an ultrasound and they kept me. They wouldn't even let me go home and get clothes... I had no idea it was so serious... Report
I am aware of dvt's. We thought the elderly lady I care fir had one. Luckily she didn't, but it's always good to be aware. Thanks for the information . Report
I was diagnosed with DVT November 2008. It was a combination of factors: birth control (I was taking Seasonique), prolonged sitting and obesity. I was finally taken off blood thinners February 2010! My doctor wants me to get blood work done in a few months to check for any genetic reason that might make me more susceptible to clots. Birth control isn't an option anymore, and I am working hard on the prolonged sitting and obesity issues. Report
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