Random Health Fact:

Natural Remedies: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

What Is It?

Deep vein thrombosis is a syndrome where blood clots develop deep in the veins of the body, such as the legs. The number of reported cases has grown over the years due to the increase of international travel, which means more and more people are sitting for longer periods without moving. Unless you travel first class, coach (or as some people call it "cattle class") offers little or no room to stretch your arms and legs out. Some people tend to stay put rather than try to squeeze past other passengers. Another problem is that pilots tend to keep the seatbelt sign on to help keep the isles clear, so people tend to stay seated, which is a mistake. Deep vein thrombosis can be fatal if not treated in time, because the clot can break off and reach the lungs or brain, where it cuts off the essential blood flow and death ensues. Some people do not have any symptoms when they develop deep vein thrombosis, however when symptoms do appear the are usually pain, swelling and redness of the leg and dilation of the surface veins. Other risk factors for developing deep vein thrombosis can be long periods of sitting without moving your legs and or toes, being immobile due to having any kind of surgery. It is theorized that in up to 25% of surgical patients, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is present but goes undetected unless the clot moves to the lungs and causes what is called a pulmonary thrombosis.

How is it detected

Doctors can usually detect DVT if a patient has symptoms of pain and swelling, or by physical examination or ultrasound of the legs. Doctors also can measure the leg around to see if it is swollen or if it is pale or cold, which would indicate that there is a lack of blood flow to the area. Some risk factors for DVT include the use of estrogen-containing methods of hormonal contraception, recent surgery, obesity, recent long-haul flying, and a history of miscarriage (which is a feature of several disorders that can also cause thrombosis). A family history can reveal a hereditary factor in the development of DVT, and you should notify your physician of this, especially if you will be having surgery.

What Can Be Done?

Prevention is one of the best ways to go about making sure DVT is not a threat to you. If you have a family history of blood clots or other clotting disorders, let your doctor know right away, especially if you are scheduled for surgery. If you are worried about DVT after surgery, your doctor can make sure that they put compression stockings on you. An air pump called an intermittent pneumatic compression device, is placed around each leg and air squeezes your legs at a timed interval to help your blood circulate, and help avoid swelling and clots. Blood thinners such as warfirin or heparin can also be administered to help thin your blood and prevent clots from forming, but this can have other serious side effects.

If you are going on a long flight, be sure to do in-flight exercises to help your blood circulate. DVT from long air travel was dubbed , "Economy class syndrome", due to the fact that coach seating is crowded and there is not much space to move around. You can also purchase knee-high support stockings to put on before your flight or after your surgery. You can purchase them in any medical supply store, for about $50 USD. If you have surgery, speak to your doctor about your concerns and ask that they put the support hose on for you after surgery, generally this will be enough, but if you or your doctor feel you are at high risk for DVT, then you can also have the doctor apply the intermittent pneumatic compression device. Many people find the device uncomfortable, as well as if you have muscular or large legs they tend to disconnect themselves when they inflate so you may need to frequently call a nurse to re-set the device. This is one problem where the only natural cure/preventative measure is to use the compression stockings, other than that you will have to be carefully monitored if you have blood thinners administered to you. 

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