Everyone is at risk of developing blood clots no matter how old, how healthy, or how active you are. Some people are predisposed to clotting, others may develop clots during pregnancy, travel or after surgery. Blood clots (DVT) can also be caused by prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your body. If left untreated, blood clots can be life threatening. DVT can lead to Pulmonary Embolism (PE), which happens when a bloods clot break offs or travels into the lungs. Even pro athlete Serena Williams had a DVT/PE scare of her own after flying.
Here's what to watch out for:
DVT symptoms include pain, swelling, cramping, discoloration of the skin and sometimes the affected area will feel warm to the touch. Even if you have not been diagnosed with DVT, but suspect you may have a clot, be aware of any shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing or a rapid heart rate. These are symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and you should head to the emergency room immediately. Do not brush these symptoms off!
Stop blood clots before they form. Prevention is much easier than treatment! Easy ways to prevent clots are to stay active, wear compression socks, stay hydrated and always be aware of your body. Whether you're heading to work, out running errands or on your way to a wonderful vacation, throw on a pair of stylish compression socks to protect your legs from swelling, fatigue and blood clots. You can also prevent blood clots by getting up and moving around every hour during long periods of inactivity.
March Is DVT Awareness Month!
March is DVT Awareness Month, so spread the word about blood clots and compression socks! The fact is, each year DVT/PE leads to more deaths than AIDs, breast cancer and car accidents combined. Don't be a statistic - tell your friends, family and coworkers to be proactive and protect their legs. Not everyone is aware of DVT/PE symptoms to watch out for, or write off key symptoms like shortness of breath and leg pain. Don't wait if you think you may have a blood clot, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Scare them straight! Here are some facts you need to know:
- - An estimated 900,000 Americans are affected by DVT/PE each year
- - 10 to 30% of people will die within one month of diagnosis
- - About 274 people die each day from blood clots , or one person every six minutes
- - Fewer than 1 in 4 people have any recognition of blood clot symptoms
- - Blood clots are a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths in the United States
- - 25% of people diagnosed with PE die before ever experiencing a symptom
These facts are scary, but remember, blood clots are easily preventable. Just remember to stay aware of your body and wear compression socks!
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with DVT, please read up on this condition and be your own advocate. There are tons of great resources and information available. Never be afraid to ask for the care you need, even if it means seeing multiple doctors. In my personal experience, it took 2 hospitals and more than 10 doctors to get the correct diagnosis and treatment regimen! It may sound like a hassle, but blood clots can be a life or death situation and shouldn't be taken lightly. Depending on how severe the clot is, along with family history and other factors, your doctor may suggest blood thinners, compression stockings, or even a filter. In more serious cases, surgery may be considered. Try to stay as active as possible to help dissolve the clots. It is important note that the body naturally dissolves blood clots over time, blood thinners only help to prevent future clots.
New medicine makes treatment much easier than in the past to heal and get back on your feet in no time. Before taking blood thinners, discuss all other medications you are on with your doctor in order to keep you safe and help you heal as fast as possible. If your doctor suggests Warfarin, Coumadin or other blood thinners, it is important to limit the amount of Vitamin K in your diet. Vitamin K is mostly commonly found in green vegetables, but can be in anything from spinach to tortilla chips to Chinese food. Don't worry, you don't have to give up your salads completely! Iceburg lettuce is safe to eat because it is so low in Vitamin K that it will not interfere with the performance of the blood thinner.
Still have questions or learned something about blood clots that you'd like to share? Comment below with your experiences, more resources and questions you have to help spread the word about blood clots and the importance of protecting your legs!