Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops in larger and deep veins of the body. It usually happens in the lower leg and thigh, although it may occur in the pelvic area, arms and neck.
DVTs can be dangerous and life threatening. When the blood clot grows larger, breaks up, moves through the blood vessels and lodges in the lungs; it results in decreased or lack of blood flow to the lungs. This can lead to rapid organ damage and tissue death. It’s called Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
DVT may also cause long-term problems and serious health complications, if not treated properly. It may cause damage to the vein leading to swelling, aching and changes in color of the leg.
There are many factors that can contribute to the development of DVT like venous damage, surgery, underlying disease, genetic factors and certain drugs.
Even insufficient leg movement or sitting for long period of time in a way that it decreases leg blood circulation. This often produces symptoms like swelling of the affected leg, tenderness and redness of the skin.
What is DVT Prophylaxis
It is about actions taken for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis. There are several guidelines that can be helpful with regards to DVT prophylaxis.
What we have below are general methods or ways on how to prevent DVT.
1. Visit the doctor regularly
Start by getting a medical checkup so you can discuss any health concerns with your physician. If you have a family history of blood-clotting disorders, alert your doctor.
Hereditary blood-clotting disorder can increase your risk of developing DVT. Tell your doctor about any medical conditions and use of medications.
Women who are pregnant, or on hormone-replacement therapy or birth control pills should also talk to their doctors about options to avoid DVT.
2. Never falter on your medication
Certain drugs prescribed for any other underlying health condition may increase the risk for developing DVT, especially if you are not taking them as directed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition such as heart disease, be sure to strictly follow your doctor’s prescription directions.
Not taking the anti-coagulant medicines as prescribed greatly increases the risk. If you’re scheduled for surgery, you will likely be given blood-thinning drugs beforehand to prevent clotting.
Some types of treatment procedures can also increase the risk of blood clotting. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding the prescriptions and the risk of developing blood clots.
3. Choose an active lifestyle
This is a major step in the fight against DVT. A desk-bound lifestyle increases your chances of developing the dangerous disease.
Long periods of sitting will hamper your blood circulation. A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to obesity, another risk factor for DVT.
An active lifestyle is very much desirable as an endeavor towards staying healthy. Look for activities you enjoy doing. Try to move throughout the day.
If you work in an office and sit at a desk all day, do some simple leg exercises, such as pressing or curling your toes down toward the floor many times a day.
Increased movements like getting up often, doing some stretching and walking around for every 2 to 3 hours will help lower your risk of DVT.
Additionally, avoid sitting with your legs crossed for long periods as it can further restrict flow of blood in your legs.
4. Take a break during long trips
Sitting for extended periods of time in an airplane, train, bus or car can increase your risk of DVT.
During long trip travels, look for ways to move like getting up, walking around, and stretching your muscles at least once in 2 to 3 hours.
When uncertain about DVT risk, discuss your concerns with the doctor before going out for a travel.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll develop DVT during your travels, researchers say that your chances can increase with the presence of other DVT risk factors especially if your travel time usually goes more than four hours.
5. Use compression stockings
If you’ve had DVT in the past or if you belong to the high-risk group, talk to your doctor about using compression stockings.
These specially-fitted stockings create firm pressure on the foot and lower part of the leg and gradually become less tight as it goes higher up.
The pressure helps push blood to return to the heart in order to prevent them from pooling and clotting in the legs. This can reduce swelling and help prevent the development of DVT.
Compression stockings are certainly beneficial to wear when you are on long trips. Keep in mind that having a talk with your doctor in getting the appropriate size of stockings is essential, as some people (such as those with diabetes) may not be able to tolerate high level of compression. You can get compression socks here.
6. Control your blood pressure
Unchecked high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular complications, such as stroke, heart attack and heart failure. It is a fact that high blood pressure can also lead to deep vein thrombosis.
If you’re already at risk for DVT, or if you have a family history of DVT, pulmonary embolism, or other blood-clotting disorders, it’s especially critical to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
7. Quit smoking
You hear health experts constantly touting the benefits of giving up smoking.
Besides reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung problems, and certain cancers, quitting smoking can also benefit those at risk of DVT.
Smoking increases the chances of having high blood pressure, which is another risk factor of DVT. It also interferes with normal blood circulation and increases the probability for the blood to clot.
This should probably be the most important factor in DVT prevention. Exercising significantly lowers DVT risk.
Work out for at least 30 minutes, three days a week. Even simple exercises will help a lot in improving blood circulation. Swimming, bicycling are all great activities.
Give more focus on leg workouts. Always find a way to provide some movement for the legs and pelvic area.
If you are sitting on chair most of the time, do a few ankle circles, leg raise or foot pumps often. When lying down, practice some stretching.
Regular exercise will also help you manage your weight’s flexibility.
9. Do deep breathing and yoga
Slow, deep breathing exercises improves blood circulation.
Breathe deeply into your abdomen. Proper breathing should be deep, slow, rhythmic and done through the nose.
Each breathing cycles should ideally have inhalation to last for about three to four seconds while having another three to four seconds when breathing out.
Besides bringing in more oxygen to your body, deep and full breaths facilitate better blood flow.
Practicing yoga regularly can also bolster your efforts to ward off DVT. Any posture that stretches the calves, hip, and hamstrings can be beneficial as they help the blood to circulate properly in the legs. In addition, yoga can promote general health considerably.
10. Have a healthy diet
Following a supportive diet is considered to have a positive effect on reducing blood clots. Many foods can either thin or thicken your blood depending on their key ingredients. Drinking plenty of water is great considering that dehydration makes blood thicker.
As a natural blood thinner, garlic could also help prevent DVT. Phenols in virgin olive oil are also believed to prevent blood clots. Green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K. However, vitamin K can interfere with Warfarin (a medicine prescribed for DVT).
Check with your doctor or dietician about your diet when on medication. Limiting animal fat in your diet can also help. Generally, fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins C, E and omega-3 fatty acids are advised as an effective measure in preventing blood clots.
Along with being aware of the disease and taking proactive step towards its prevention, never ignore the onset of symptoms or hesitate to get medical help.
Consult your doctor immediately if you think you are experiencing symptoms of DVT, especially if you have more severe symptoms, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, lightheadedness or coughing up blood. This may be signs of pulmonary embolism. Seek medical attention right away.
It’s a lot easier to prevent deep vein thrombosis than its treatment.
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