March is DVT Awareness Month

Pharmacist and patientMadison, Wisconsin - March is DVT Awareness Month, which begs the question: What is DVT, and why does it have its own month?


"A DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is a blood clot that forms in a vein, usually in the lower limbs, that blocks blood circulation," says UW Health pharmacy coordinator Anne Rose. "Each year two million people are affected by DVT. Of these, 600,000 people are hospitalized and up to 300,000 people die each year from DVT-related pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs."


Rose, who also contributes to the the UW Health Anticoagulation Stewardship program, which manages antithrombotic and procoagulant agents in all UW Health patient care settings, says these potentially fatal blood clots are entirely preventable.


"You can assess your risk for developing blood clots, be aware of signs of blood clots and learn how to potentially prevent a blood clot," she says, by using the tips below.


Risk for Blood Clots


You may be at risk if:

  • You travel often, especially on long flights or car/bus rides
  • You take birth control pills
  • You are pregnant or have just had a baby
  • You are in the hospital for surgery or are confined to bed for greater than 2 days
  • You have had a stroke
  • You are receiving treatment for cancer
  • You broke your leg, hip or other bone
  • You had a blood clot in the past
  • You have a history of a clotting disorder
  • You have a primary family member (mother, father, sister, brother) who has had a blood clot

Signs of Blood Clots


People who may have a blood clot in a vein might feel or see:

  • Leg cramping or skin that is tender to a light touch
  • Swelling
  • Warm skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Pain near the vein
  • A vein that looks blue

People who may have a blood clot in the lungs may:

  • Have a hard time breathing
  • Feel chest pains
  • Feel lightheaded
  • Feel their heart beating hard or fast
  • Cough up blood 

If you believe you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of a blood clot, talk to your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency department immediately.


Preventing Blood Clots


You can prevent blood clots by:

  • Getting up and walking around once per hour, flexing your feet or squeezing your toes for 15 seconds every hour, and wearing compression stockings during long flights or car rides.
  • Taking blood thinners prescribed by your doctor
  • Using an injectable blood thinner or compression stockings while you’re in the hospital.
  • Staying as active as possible
  • Stopping smoking

Date Published: 03/12/2013

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