Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a life-threatening medical condition where blood clots form in the legs. These clots can possibly break free and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. There are ways to minimize your risk of DVT and its associated complications.
Reduce Controllable Risks
There are several controllable risk factors for DVT. Keeping your weight at a healthy level and engaging in regular exercise is important. Excess weight places more pressure on your legs and when you are significantly overweight, you are more likely to live a sedentary lifestyle. If you have chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or hypertension, remain vigilant about keeping your condition under control through prescribed medications and lifestyle changes.
If you currently use birth control pills containing estrogen, you should consider other options available that can meet your pregnancy prevention and/or gynecological needs. Unfortunately, the estrogen found in combination pills is associated with an increased risk of blood clots, especially in women over 35, those who smoke, and have an elevated risk for heart and blood vessel disease. There are numerous progestin-only options that can afford you the same protection or help control gynecological concerns, with fewer risks.
Discuss Your Family History
Make sure your doctor is aware of your family history of heart and blood vessel disease. Even if you are not aware of any heart or blood vessel problems in your family, it never hurts to have this discussion will all living relatives you can contact. Your family history may change the screenings or monitoring you need. For example, if you have a strong family history of early-onset heart disease, your doctor may prefer to do more in-depth testing of your heart and major blood vessels at an earlier age. Your doctor may prescribe a daily low-dose aspirin to minimize the formation of blood clots.
Another risk factor associated with DVT is being immobilized for any reason. If you are having a major surgery, especially orthopedic surgery, it is important to start walking or participating in physical therapy as soon as you are cleared. While you are confined to the bed you may be given pressure cuffs to keep the blood moving in your legs.
For people who are already at high risk for DVT and are going to be confined to bed, an inferior vena cava filter may be implanted to catch any clots that break free while they are immobilized. The device is shaped like an umbrella without the fabric covering. It is implanted through an incision in the groin area and will catch any blood clot traveling from the legs. Once the device is no longer needed, it is removed by using a guide wire threaded through the neck.
DVT and its associated complications cannot be understated. By reducing your controllable risk factors and taking proactive steps to manage conditions that are beyond your control, you can decrease your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. Talk to a doctor, like Elite Vein Centers, for more help.