DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the lower limbs. A complication of DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), can occur when a fragment of a blood clot breaks loose from the wall of the vein and migrates to the lungs, where it blocks a pulmonary artery or one of its branches creating a life threatening situation.
DVT Risk Factors
Who is at Risk?
DVT can occur in almost anyone. However, certain individuals may be at increased risk for developing a DVT. Risk factors include but are not limited to:
- Restricted Mobility
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Respiratory Failure
- Infectious Disease
- Age > 40
- Stroke patients
- Varicose veins
- Inflammatory Bowel disease
- Prior or family history of venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Periods of immobility can put you at risk for developing DVT; which in turn can lead to a PE.
Warning signs of DVT:
- Pain, tenderness or swelling of the leg
- Discoloration or redness
- Skin that is warm to touch
Warning signs of PE:
- Shortness of breath
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Rapid pulse
- Excessive sweating
- Sharp chest pain or back pain
- Cough that may produce a bloody discharge
- Very low blood pressure
The good news is that DVT and PE are preventable and treatable.
Early ambulation, sequential compression devices, thrombo/embolic hose and anticoagulation therapy are all used in the prevention and treatment of DVT. Some anticoagulation agents frequently used at SAH are Warfarin, Lovenox and Heparin.
For more information go to www.preventdvt.org