Discover The Facts About Blood Clots And How You Can Lessen The Risk Of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can affect individuals of all ages. Your senior loved one may be at an increased risk for developing DVT. Pegasus home care specialists in Winnetka and elsewhere offer tips for lessening the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Arteries transport blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Veins carry the depleted blood back to your heart. Veins can be superficial or deep.
Superficial veins are near the surface, and many of them are visible through your skin. Deep veins are much larger and are located deep within muscle tissue. Deep veins carry blood the furthest distance, often against gravity.
Blood Clots Can Be Fatal
Thrombosis is the medical name for a blood clot that stops the flow of blood. Thrombosis in arteries can cause heart attacks and strokes. Thrombosis in a vein, although sometimes fatal, is not a cause of heart attacks or strokes.
Deep vein thrombosis is blood clots in the deep veins. The clots often form in the lower extremities, thighs, and pelvic area. They may also develop in the arms.
Sometimes DVT has no symptoms. More often, individuals experience painful swelling. The area may turn red and feel tender.
In some cases, DVT damages the valves in the veins that control the flow of blood. The damage is usually permanent, leading to a condition called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS includes discolored or ulcerated skin that is swollen and painful.
If a blood clot breaks off, it can travel to the lungs. The clot causes a blockage called a pulmonary embolism (PE). If quickly treated, the clot can be dissolved.
A large clot can damage the lungs. Large clots or an untreated PE stops the flow of blood and can be fatal.
What Causes DVT?
The primary cause of DVT is interference with the flow or clotting ability of blood. Surgery or other trauma can damage veins and cause a clot. Damage from inflammation due to an injury or infection also impedes blood flow.
Most cases are due to one or more risk factors such as:
- Age – individuals past the age of 60 are at higher risk than younger individuals.
- Cancer – tumors and cancer treatments can create blood clotting problems.
- Chronic disease – conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases increase the risk of DVT. Indwelling catheters required in some conditions can cause blood clots.
- Genetics – some abnormal clotting conditions are inherited.
- Heart failure – the impaired function of the heart and lungs means that even small clots can cause a pulmonary embolism.
- Limited movement – anything that keeps a person immobile increases their DVT risk. That includes long car rides, plane flights, bed rest, or paralysis. That’s because muscle contractions are necessary to overcome gravity and push blood up from the lower parts of the body to the heart.
- Obesity – excessive body weight exerts pressure against the veins.
- Smoking – smoking interferes with circulation and the ability of blood to clot.
The more factors an individual has, the greater their risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
How Can DVT Be Prevented?
The causes of DVT provide clues for preventing or reducing the risk of developing it. Taking off the extra pounds if you’re overweight is essential. So is quitting smoking, avoiding overconsumption of alcohol, staying hydrated, and exercising.
If you’re in a position of limited movements, such as traveling, wear loose-fitting clothes, Stretch or contract your leg muscles, which you can do while sitting. If you are on a plane or train, stand or walk around as often as possible.
If you are bedridden or paralyzed, Pegasus physical therapists can help. They design customized movements that lessen the risk of blood clots forming. Their services are provided in the comfort and privacy of your home.
If you are injured or have surgery, follow your physician’s instructions carefully. If you aren’t told when to resume activity or the level of safe activity, ask. You should immediately report any of the DVT or PTS symptoms described above to your healthcare provider.
How Can DVT Risk Factors Be Reduced?
The risk factors stemming from disease or chronic health conditions can sometimes be reduced. For example, medications such as anticoagulants can help prevent blood clots. Other treatments can improve the underlying disease or condition and thereby reduce the risk of DVT.
Some medications affect circulation and blood flow. Talk to your doctor about possibly changing the kind or dosage if you have to take them long-term. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, keep moving, so that muscle contractions continue to help transport blood efficiently.
Risk factors such as age and genetics are beyond your ability to change. However, your healthcare provider can evaluate your likelihood of developing DVT. They may suggest that you take preventive measures, such as wearing compression stockings, to reduce your risk.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home care services in Winnetka and our other locations are tailored to meet individual requirements. Our quality care is designed to keep you and your loved ones safe and independent in your home.