Sidestepping Deep Vein Thrombosis - Vein Seminar
Do you have pain and swelling in your lower leg or thigh? This could be a sign of a blood clot deep in your leg. If ignored, the clot could damage your leg and possibly lead to serious heart and lung complications. Fortunately, this condition — called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) — is treatable, but early diagnosis is paramount.
“A blood clot can break away from its location in the leg and travel to the lungs,” warned Ulises Baltazar, M.D., a board-certified vascular surgeon with Houston Methodist Cardiovascular Surgery Associates. “Once there, it may block a lung artery and cause a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Patients diagnosed with DVT must be hospitalized promptly to receive treatment and avoid complications.”
PREVENT DVT WHEN TRAVELING
Sitting for long periods of time, either in an airplane or a car can limit circulation in the legs, leading to a clot forming in the vein. The clot can travel unnoticed through the blood stream and potentially lodge in the brain, lungs, heart and other areas causing severe damage to organs.
You can avoid DVT when traveling by getting up and walking around at least every two hours, and try not to sleep more than four hours at a time in an airplane or car. If you can’t get up every couple of hours, extend both legs and move feet back and forth in a circular motion periodically. For people with circulation problems, or the elderly, wearing compression stockings may help, too.
BLOOD CLOT CAUSES
“DVT can run in families, but many times these clots form for no apparent reason,” Baltazar said. “What we do know is that men and women of all ages and races can be at risk for a blood clot.”
Risk factors for DVT include: obesity, inactivity, an above-normal tendency for blood to clot, recent surgery, heart attack, a recent hip or leg fracture, or pancreatic and certain other cancer treatments in which bloodclotting agents form in the bloodstream
SIGNS OF DVT
The onset of DVT presents in less than two to three weeks and is usually marked by inflammation and swelling of the leg as well as redness, pain, tenderness and a sensation of heat radiating from the location of the clot.
“Once DVT is diagnosed, usually through a simple scan at our Vein Clinic, a blood-thinning agent called heparin is given intravenously to keep the clot from getting bigger,” Baltazar said. “Eventually the body will dissolve the clot, and once that happens, an anti-clotting medication called warfarin is given to keep the clot from re-forming.”
Warfarin therapy usually lasts from three to six months, but the dosage levels occasionally need adjusting. Too much warfarin causes patients to bruise easily and bleed profusely, even from minor cuts.
You don’t have to live with the discomfort and embarrassment of varicose veins. To schedule an appointment with Baltazar, call 281.240.8400. For the latest news, events and information visit our Facebook page at fb.com/methodistsugarland.
Join us for a vein seminar presented by Ulises Baltazar, M.D., on Thursday, Jan. 25, who will be speaking on problems with blood flow in the legs: the causes, symptoms, who is at risk, treatments and prevention. Registration is required. Go to events.houstonmethodist.org/vein-sl or call 281.274.7500 for more information and to register.