According to the vein specialists at North Texas Vein & Vascular in Flower Mound, Texas, few people understand what Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is, how widespread it is, and how dangerous it can be. One of the reasons we wish to increase awareness of this disease is that it affects an estimated 2 million Americans every year, and as many as 300,000 of them die each year from complications associated with DVT; that’s more than die from breast cancer, AIDS, and automobile accidents combined.
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of the body, most often in the legs. These clots impair the proper flow of blood through the veins, which would be bad enough in itself, but what makes them deadly is that they do not always stay where they formed. Instead, pieces of the blood clot, or the entire clot, can break off and enter the bloodstream and be conveyed to the lungs, where they can cause pulmonary embolisms, or to the brain, where they can cause a stroke. DVT can also cause scarring or injury to the valves in smaller leg veins, giving rise to chronic venous insufficiency or post thrombotic syndrome.
The worst aspect of DVT – and why we at North Texas Vein & Vascular are joining with other leading vein doctors this month to raise awareness of the disease – is that most of the people who have DVT don’t know that they do. Even though the causes of DVT, the risk factors for developing it, and the techniques to effectively treat it are well known, a disturbingly small percentage of Americans even know what the initials DVT stand for.
What Do People Need To Know About Their Risk Factors?
Your risk of developing DVT is high if you are obese (because the extra weight increases pressure on the veins in your legs, damaging them), if you have given birth in the last six months (because of weight gain and hormonal changes), if you have experienced long periods of bed rest or recent surgery, if you have had fractures of bones in the legs or pelvis, and if you have a family history of developing blood clots. Also at higher risk for DVT are smokers, those who have had cancer or lupus, and women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy drugs.
Another risk factor that is being viewed by the medical community with almost the same degree of alarm as obesity is inactivity. Americans today tend to spend most of their day sitting – at desks, in the cramped seats of airplanes, and at the end of the day on the couch watching TV. This is dangerous not only because of the lack of adequate cardiovascular exercise, but because all of this sitting weakens the muscles of your legs, putting additional pressure on your veins, and increasing your risk of DVT.
How Do I Know If I Have Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Some symptoms of blood clots forming in the deep veins of the legs include pain or swelling, or changes in the color or temperature (warming) of skin areas near the clots. But unfortunately these symptoms do not always present themselves, so the only sure way to know whether you have DVT is to get a DVT screening from a vein specialist like Dr. Robert Handley. A venous health screening to check for blood clots or other signs of DVT takes in most cases less than an hour, and is both painless and non-invasive. Dr. Handley may use Doppler ultrasound to look beneath the surface of the skin to locate blood clots or other venous disease, and he may perform blood tests to look for antibodies that would indicate a propensity to abnormal clotting.
Allow him and his professional staff at North Texas Vein & Vascular to assess the health of your veins. If DVT is found, It will be treated effectively, using the most minimally-invasive, non-surgical technologies available such as endovenous laser treatment (EVLT treatment). Diagnosed early, DVT can be safely and easily treated, removing any danger. It’s not knowing that the disease is there that can be life-threatening.