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Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is often referred to a blockage of the veins within the lower and upper limbs.

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Blood Clots:

Every 5-7 minutes, someone in Canada dies from a blood clot related health issue.

Deep Vein Thrombosis What is it?

Blood clots within the lower legs are known as deep vein thrombosis aka DVT’s. A blood clot is formed within the femoral vein and blocks blood flow causing a lot of pain and swelling.

Deep vein thrombosis is not to be taken lightly, as a blood clot passes through the deep veins within your legs, it can travel upwards within the arteries into your lungs, which is called a Pulmonary Embolism or Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).

DVT’s and PE’s can be fatal if not treated right away.

“I have been extremely lucky to have survived many DVT’s within both my legs and within my pelvic area. For the past 20 years, my body has understood the concept of blood clots in a very intimate way. I have learned not to take life for granted since it can happen to anyone.”

~ Source: Martin R. Lemieux, Clots Matter Founder

Deep Vein Thrombosis:

Thrombosis Canada™ [ DOWNLOAD PDF ]

Statistics Statistics

The number of patients affected from DVT’s is very extensive. Stats show that deep vein thrombosis can occur at any age and isn’t specific to one sex only.

“Every 5-7 minutes, someone in Canada dies from a blood clot related health issue. On average, DVT’s alone affect between 45,000-65,000 Canadian lives every year.”

~ Source: ClotsMatter.ca

“An estimated 45,000 patients in Canada are affected by DVT each year, with an incidence of approximately 1-2 cases per 1,000 persons annually. This translates into 2-4 DVTs per year in a typical, solo Canadian family practice. Since only 10-20% of patients with suspected DVT actually have the disease, a typical family practice will evaluate 20-40 patients with symptoms and/or signs suggestive of DVT each year.”

~ Source: ThrombosisCanada.ca

"DVT occurs in about 200,000 Canadians every year"

~ Source: ohri.ca

Signs and Symptoms Signs & Symptoms

The signs and symptoms for DVT’s are usually very specific. But please understand that a number of clots don’t display any symptoms at all. If you or someone you know shows any of the below symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Signs and Symptoms:

• Elastic sensation
• Finger imprinting
• Leg cramping
• Leg swelling
• Outer leg soreness
• Redness coloration
• Sharp pain in the calf
• Swollen foot
• Throbbing

DVT’s can form quickly and suddenly. They often present signs below the knees, but can affect the pelvic area and thighs.

DVT Causes:

• Non-mobility
• Smoking
• Obesity
• Long Flights
• Sitting for too long
• Video gaming
• Trauma
• Surgery
• Family history (i.e. Factor V Leiden)
• Cancer treatments (25% of cancer patients)
• Pre-existing DVT’s
• Pregnancy

Therapies Therapies

Anticoagulant therapies for deep vein thrombosis is usually treated with similar steps across Canada. The key is to first identify the location, severity and nature of the blood clot.

DVT Diagnosis:

Patient Assessment:

As all conditions, patients are first assessed by a medical professional. Factors are considered depending on the situation (ex. Patient history, trauma, surgery, risk assessment, etc.)

Blood Tests (D-Dimer):

Blood tests are done right away to measure the coagulation factor within a patient’s blood. This process includes a blood count and platelet count. The number of platelets in your blood determine the blood cell pieces that stick together, ultimately forming blood clots in the system.

Ultrasound:

An ultrasound is performed to have a visual understanding of the blockage in question. Measures are taken to ensure the DVT hasn’t moved into the arteries upwards towards the mid-section of the body.

Ultrasounds are also performed to test; compression, blood flow and possible pooling of blood. They can also measure the size and nature of the DVT in question.

DVT Treatment:

Anticoagulation Treatment:

A 7-day dose of Low-Molecular Weight Heparin is administered. Heparin injections react quickly to ensure anticoagulation prior to the oral medication(s) taking effect.

Oral Anticoagulation:

While the heparin takes effect, the patient is administered an oral anticoagulant (i.e. Coumadin, Xarelto, etc.). This treatment usually lasts up to 3 months depending on the severity of the DVT.

Outpatient Care:

Most DVT patients undergo “outpatient care” while treated their DVT. Some patients may be required to have blood tests regularly performed depending on the nature of the medications.

For ex. Coumadin has to be regularly monitored, and INR test is performed to ensure the patient is taking the appropriate dose to stay at a therapeutic rate. Doses may be increased or decreased as needed.

Diet Changes:

Certain foods may need to be avoided. Leafy greens and certain fruits contain high concentrations of Vitamin K, which is a reversal agent (natural coagulant). Please talk to your doctor about options needed while taking your anticoagulants.

Physiotherapy:

Your doctor may recommend you undergo some form of non-intrusive physiotherapy to help rebuild the muscles in the affected area. DVT’s cause some damage internally, regular exercise when possible is recommended to help build healthy muscles to ensure blood flow is properly distributed throughout the body.

Prevention and Risks Prevention & Risks:

Taking steps to preventing deep vein thrombosis is very important in life. As we learn more about blood clots, we better understand the nature which these life-threatening events occur within an individual’s life.

Prevention is the Key-2-DVT-Free:

Blood Pressure:

Ensuring your lifestyle includes regular blood pressure checks is very important. Blood clots are affected by blood pressure, or lack thereof.

Obesity:

Being overweight poses a great deal of risks to your health. One of those risks is developing a DVT. Being overweight puts a great deal of strain on your heart and also puts pressure on your veins and arteries. Your risks are higher.

Exercise:

Individuals who exercise regularly are less likely to develop DVT’s. Laziness doesn’t pay. Regular walks, stretching, yoga, and non-intrusive exercises strengthens muscles around the walls of your veins. Healthy muscles increase blood flow throughout the body.

NOTE: Excessive weight lifting can have the opposite effect causing blood vessels to burst, expand and retract.

Smoking:

As if we as humans need another reason to quit smoking, but as many already know, smoking causes arteries and veins to retract, thus causing blood flow problems. Smoking drastically affect blood pressure increasing the risks of developing blood clots.

Gaming:

Some “gamer’s” have been known to develop DVT clots simply by sitting for far too long at one time. Lack of movement causes blockages in the veins. The longer a person plays videos games without stretching, the longer they’re at risk of developing these silent killers.

Long Flights:

More and more we hear of the long-flight horror story. It’s a proven fact that long flights now pose serious risks to individuals because of the lack of movement while sitting for hours on end. Simple exercises to help open up the veins and to increase blood flow is now practiced by a great deal of airlines.

Flights that are 12 hours or longer increases the risks dramatically. Make sure to venture to the washroom at least once an hour. Practice safe sitting habits, while stretching out your pelvic area as much as possible.

Pregnancy:

Pregnancies are common factors for deep vein thrombosis. Pregnant mothers should take all precautions during their pregnancy. A great deal of studies has been done on the subject. More and more doctors are familiar with the risks involved. Make sure to speak to your doctor about your personal risks and what therapies and/or treatment options are available.

Trauma:

Trauma to the body is very unpredictable. A traumatic fall, car crash, sports injury, etc. can cause a lot of internal damage not seen by the naked eye. Any trauma should be treated seriously; measures should be taken to be checked by a local hospital for internal injuries that might affect blood flow in any way.

Surgeries:

Patients should be well informed about the risks of having surgeries performed. Even in the best circumstance, whenever a body is worked on, there are risks of bleeding, bruising and damaged arterial systems. Patients should make sure to discuss anticoagulant options, and make sure they keep their appointments.

Work Environment:

These days an average person works long hours, many of those hours are stuck behind a desk positioned within a chair not moving around much. This daily commitment to our work can cause complications since we tend not to think about the damage forming within our lower extremities. Getting up and stretching is very important to maintain healthy blood flow.

Medical Note:

Any and all information provided here is not designed to give medical advice and/or replace recommendations from doctors.
Information therein comes from personal experiences of thrombosis patients.

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