Deep Vein Thrombosis: A Silent Killer That You Need to Know

Deep Vein Thrombosis: A Silent Killer That You Need to Know
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Deep vein thrombosis is a silent danger that lurks in some people’s bodies and can become lethal in the blink of an eye. In spite of how devastating it can be, this killer that lurks in the shadows of the body does not get much publicity.

Although news media focuses on heart disease, cancer and obesity, and the risks associated with these illnesses are widely known to the public, one health hazard that affects men and women, young and old, has caused the deaths of more people than all these diseases combined: deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis is a medical condition in which a blood clot clogs up one of the deep veins in the body, generally within the leg. The danger arises when the clot breaks away from the leg vein and travels to the lungs, becoming a pulmonary embolism—a condition which can turn deadly at the drop of a hat.

Although DVT can cause the affected area to become swollen and tender or painful, it may also happen without presenting any symptoms at all.1 Because the clot caused by DVT can break away and travel to the lungs to become a fatal pulmonary embolism, this sometime symptomless illness has the potential to kill quickly and without warning.

Who is at Risk of Developing DVT?

As many as 2 million people each year develop DVT, and many of them don’t even realize it until it threatens their lives. Of these, up to 200,000 people per year die because of complications caused by DVT.2

DVT – Risk Factors

Although males and females are at relatively equal risk of developing deep vein thrombosis5, certain risk factors for the illness are gender specific. People who should be especially vigilant about watching for signs and symptoms of DVT include3, 5:

1. Women who take hormonal birth control pills

2. Pregnant women and women in the immediate post-partum period (6-8 weeks after childbirth)

3. Anyone whose movement is restricted for long periods of time, including people who have been hospitalized or who are otherwise bedridden, people with lengthy commutes or who take long airline flights4, work long hours at a desk job, etc.

4. People with a prior family medical history including DVT or pulmonary embolism

5. People prone to clotting disorders or taking certain medications that impact normal blood clotting

6. Advanced age (elderly people are more prone to DVT, as well as women in their post-menopausal years)

7. Weight problems, specifically obesity

8. Smoking cigarettes

Signs and Symptoms of DVT

Some people develop DVT without having any of the above risk factors, making it important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of DVT. If you experience any of the following issues, see a doctor immediately for testing to rule out a deep vein thrombosis-related problem.3, 5

Cramping in the groin or leg

If you experience sudden cramps that cannot be explained by vigorous exercise or nutritional deficiency, this could be the pain of a deep vein clot and should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Swelling of one or two legs

DVT most commonly occurs in the leg, typically only one leg. However, occasionally it occurs in both legs at the same time

If you experience inexplicable swelling and tenderness and can’t seem to figure out how or why your leg has swollen, get immediate medical attention—this could be a complication from DVT.

Chest pain or difficulty breathing

Chest pain is one of the seven types of pain you should never ignore and it’s also one of the 10 signs of a heart attack.

If a leg or groin clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, it can become a pulmonary embolism and become deadly fast. If you experience chest pain or have a hard time breathing, seek emergency medical attention to rule out pulmonary embolism or heart attack—better safe than sorry.

Coughing up blood

Another symptom of pulmonary embolism, coughing up blood is always a serious issue and requires medical care. Although coughing up blood may be caused by a variety of health issues, it is better to rule out grave health problems like DVT than to ignore the problem in the hopes that your symptoms improve over time. With DVT, time is of the essence.

How to Reduce your Risk of DVT

Deep vein thrombosis is an intimidating opponent in the health arena, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this potentially deadly disease3, 4, 5:

Get active and stay active

One of the biggest contributors to the development of DVT is poor blood flow, which can happen to people who are inactive much of the time. So make sure you are aware of the 14 signs of poor blood circulation. If you are sitting for long periods of time, you need to be aware that sitting is slowly killing you.

The health benefits of getting active and fit are immense and wide-sweeping, so it’s no surprise that they can ward off DVT, too. I have in this website many exercises that you can do at home, and they include detailed illustrations, for example have a look at these exercises for the tummy, legs and butt, back, chest, and arms. Incorporating physical activities into your daily life is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Take walks and stretching breaks

If you work long hours at a desk job or take a long airline flight lasting more than six hours, take periodic breaks to walk around and stretch (walking can also help you lose weight). Stand up and shake out your limbs a bit so your blood circulation can continue as it should.

If bedridden, make sure blood circulation is kept up to par

Walking and stretching may not always be an option. If you are confined to bed or are otherwise unable to move your legs, massage your legs to keep blood flowing in the area. for more tips read my post on how to naturally improve blood circulation.

Lose Weight

If you are obese, you are at higher risk of developing DVT. Find out about the source of your weight problem and take proactive steps to treat it. Many people can lose weight with dietary and lifestyle changes, while others may need medical care for an underlying illness such as a thyroid issue. I have a lot of articles on how to lose weight and you can get more information in my articles about 12 simple tweaks for weight loss and how to reduce your Glycemic Index (GI) and lose weight.

Quit smoking

Smoking is one of the 10 habits to stop if you want to be healthy.

Smokers are at very high risk, so developing a quit plan is crucial for improving health and fortifying the body against DVT and other smoking-related illnesses. You can follow the advice in my post about the 5 natural ways to quit smoking.

Stay vigilant, especially if you are at risk

Be on the lookout for any signs of symptoms of DVT and do not ignore them if they should happen to you. You only have one life to live, so look after it well by staying healthy and being vigilant about any potential health problems.

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