A DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, occurs when a blood clot forms deep in a vein. These blood clots usually form in the calf or thigh of the leg, but they can also form in other areas such as the arms or the trunk.
Blood clots are dangerous because they can break away from the vein and travel to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and they can cause severe damage to the lungs or even lead to sudden death.
That is why it is so important to learn the symptoms of a deep vein blood clot. Some signs to watch out for include
- Cramping or soreness in the calf or thigh
- Red, purple or blue tinted skin
- Warmth in a certain spot on the leg
If you notice any of these symptoms, go to an emergency room or see your primary care physician as soon as possible.
There are several risk factors for deep vein blood clots. Some people inherit a blood clotting disorder from their parents. Another risk factor is taking oral birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Pregnancy increases the risk as well. Finally, a sedentary lifestyle, such as a job that requires you to sit for long periods at a time or a medical condition that requires you to sit or lie down, is a risk factor.
Even if you must, or choose to, lead a sedentary lifestyle, there are steps you can take to prevent having a deep vein blood clot.
- Take Medications as Prescribed
If your doctor believes you are at a high risk for a DVT, he or she may prescribe medicines like blood thinners. Talk to your doctor about how the medicine works and if there are any side effects to be aware of. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor if there are any foods or activities you should avoid while taking the medicine. You may need to get regular blood tests to make sure you have the right amount of medication in your system.
- See Your Doctor Regularly
Most people have check-ups once a year. If you have a history of deep vein thrombosis, though, your doctor may want to see you two or three times a year. Of course, if you start to experience symptoms of a blood clot, get to the emergency room or your doctor’s office as quickly as you can.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a risk factor for deep vein blood clots. If you can lose even a little excess weight, you can decrease the odds of a blood clot forming. If you are unable to exercise, the best method for shedding pounds is to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about putting together a menu that is conducive to weight loss. You may also want to look into weight loss shakes.
- Move Around from Time to Time
Sitting immobile for more than 90 minutes at a time can increase your risk for developing deep vein thrombosis. Try to get up an move around at least every hour and a half. If you have a job that requires you to sit, take regular bathroom breaks or visit the break room for a bottle of water or a cup of coffee. If you are on a long flight, stand up and shift your weight from one foot to the other for a few minutes.
- Engage in Light Exercise
The best deep vein thrombosis treatment is regular exercise but sometimes, due to a medical condition, this isn’t possible. So, you may not be able to run a mile, but you may be able to perform gentle exercises that are less of a shock to the system. Walking is one such exercise. A nice, slow walk around the block is a good way to start. You can gradually increase the pace and distance as you build up stamina. Another good exercise is swimming because it does not place stress on the joints. Finally, some people find yoga suitable as a low stress form of exercise.
- Compression Stockings
Compression stockings apply pressure to the lower legs to maintain blood flow. The stockings are tighter around the ankles and looser around the knees. Compression stockings can be purchased through the mail or at a pharmacy. Before buying the stockings, talk to your doctor to make sure he or she thinks they are appropriate for your deep vein thrombosis treatment.
- Keep an Eye on Your Blood Pressure
There are several studies that have looked for a correlation between high blood pressure, or hypertension, and deep vein blood clots. The results of the studies have been mixed, but most researchers agree that there is no harm in controlling your blood pressure and that it may do you a great deal of good.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking is a serious risk for deep vein blood clots, but giving up smoking can be a real challenge. If you are having a hard time quitting on your own, talk to your doctor about medications that can help you stop smoking more easily. Support from your family and friends can also make it easier to stop smoking.
- Watch Out for Symptoms
If you’re at a high risk for a DVT, make sure to check your legs at least two or three times each week. As discussed above, look for symptoms such as redness, soreness, discoloration, warmth or swelling. If you notice anything suspicious, call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
- Stay Hydrated
Being dehydrated, or not having enough fluids in your body, can cause blood to thicken and clot. Try to drink eight glasses of water every day. If you’re not fond of water, drink ice tea, lemonade, or fruit juices. Stay away from sodas. Staying well hydrated can help prevent the formation of deep vein blood clots.
Deep vein blood clots can be a hazard to your health. The best deep vein thrombosis treatment is to stay on your feet and active. If you can’t do that, though, there are still some steps you can take to stop blood clots from forming and to treat them when they do.