Deep Vein Thrombosis: Preventing Tragedy

June 9, 2014
Deep vein thrombosis shouldn't be taken sitting down. Learn how to read the signs and how to prevent DVT.

There could be trouble up ahead. Learn how to read the signs of deep vein thrombosis.

We all know how important staying active is. It’s good for our hearts, lungs, and waistlines. Unfortunately, many of us spend much of the day sitting at a desk, or in some other sedentary position. It’s not good for us, and most of us try to get exercise whenever possible.

However, this is a fairly recent problem. Most of our parents and grandparents did not lead sedentary lives. In fact, the idea of going to gym didn’t even start until the mid 1960s. There was no need to try to be active, because people just were active. Therefore, the idea of sitting or lying down all day may be a very uncomfortable one for seniors. They may long to be active, but due to health concerns may longer be able to move about as they used to.

Unfortunately, this leads to more problems than just putting on a few pounds. Being sedentary can cause a real threat: deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Revealed

What is DVT and what are its symptoms? DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body. Although DVT can occur at any age, it is most common in patients over the age of 60. Common risk factors are:

  • bed rest
  • family history of clots
  • obesity
  • cancer
  • smoking

Several of these risk factors are common in seniors. The danger of having a blood clot lodged deep in a vein is that it can break away, forming an embolism that can get stuck in the brain, the lungs, or the heart. This is a life threatening situation.

How can you recognize the symptoms of DVT, and what can you do to prevent it?

Symptoms and Prevention

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so goes the adage. We certainly want to address prevention of DVT. However, what if you are worried that you or your loved one already has it? A few common symptoms to look out for are:

  • skin redness
  • skin that is warm to the touch
  • leg pain
  • leg swelling

People with DVT often have pain so severe that they can’t walk, or struggle to do so. If you have any of these symptoms see your doctor sooner, rather than later. After an examination, and usually blood tests, your doctor will most likely prescribe anti-coagulants for you. These will thin your blood to prevent further clots from forming. Compression stockings are often recommended.

Prevention of DVT is usually quite inexpensive. It just requires a little discipline. Try to move about during the day as much as possible. If full mobility is not possible, have someone assist you in gentle stretches and move your legs and body around several times a day.

Since nicotine has such a huge impact on circulation, quit smoking. This step may require quite a bit more discipline. However, the result is worth the effort.

Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. These contain healthy nutrients that will support proper blood flow. Sugars impair blood flow, so avoid them as much as possible.

Now that warmer weather is here, moving about is a little easier. Get outside and get some fresh air. Your lungs, your blood, and your health will thank you. Taking just a few of these simple steps can help prevent deep venous thrombosis.

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