March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month

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dvtOnce every six minutes, someone dies from a blood clot. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is serious, so serious that the month of March is DVT Awareness Month. Around 2 million Americans each year are affected by DVT; complications from DVT causes more deaths every year than AIDs, car accidents, or breast cancer.  Around 200,000 deaths in the United States occur each year from DVT complications; sadly, those deaths could have been prevented, because the condition is preventable.

The purpose of DVT month is to raise awareness of the common medical condition. Surprisingly, three-fourths of Americans have little to no knowledge about DVT, according to a survey done by the American Public Health Association.  The month is sponsored by the Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis; this coalition is made up of 25 organizations.

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms within a deep vein, usually in the leg but it can occur anywhere in the body. DVT becomes dangerous when the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, resulting in the fatal condition: pulmonary embolism (PE).

Causes & Symptoms

So what causes DVT? A variety of factors combined with genetics can determine a person’s risk for developing DVT. Factors a person can control, include: weight, activity level, prolonged travel in cramped spaces, smoking, and pregnancy (not necessarily within a person’s control). A person who has a family history of DVT is at a heightened risk for the condition. Other factors that can cause DVT: aging, stroke, major surgery, injuries and traumas, heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV, and certain blood-clotting disorders.

DVT symptoms can range from basically non-existent to extreme. Nearly half of people who have DVT experience no symptoms at all. And for many, the symptoms they experience get mistaken for other conditions, injuries, or disorders like a pulled muscle. Common symptoms include: pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration (red, blue, or purple), and enlarged surface veins.

DVT Prevention

According to the American Public Health Association, DVT is a public health problem. DVT Awareness Month was created to help people become more aware of the condition and learn how to identify common risk factors and pre-existing conditions that can lead to DVT. The coalition hopes to raise education and awareness in the public so people better understand their own potential of getting DVT. Doctors and other health-care professionals also must routinely assess a person’s risk of DVT.

This awareness month has been in effect since 2003. The coalition shares a few ideas on how to spread awareness, which include: writing a letter to local news stations, post DVT awareness fliers in public locations, asking an employer to mention the awareness month around the workplace, and speaking to family members and friends about the condition.

For personal prevention, there are different suggestions based on severity of the risk of developing DVT. For a high risk person or for someone who has a history of getting clots, doctors can prescribe anti-coagulants and blood-thinners to prevent existing clots from growing and future clots from occurring. Traveling, along with jobs that involve a lot of sitting, can put people at high risk for developing blood clots. With that said, people should make the effort to take a way or perform small exercises throughout the day to keep their legs in motion and the blood flowing. For a lesser severe risk, health professionals recommend compression stockings and elevating legs (whenever possible). Lifestyle changes, like losing weight, increasing exercise, and quitting smoking, can also decrease the risk of developing blood clots. Other prevention tips include: wearing lose fitting clothing and moving as soon as possible after surgery or an illness. With a proper assessment and lifestyle changes, DVT can be prevented or caught before the condition turns fatal. If you feel that you make be at risk for DVT or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed about, please contact Dr. Zuzga of the West Florida Vein Center at 727-712-3233 for an appointment.


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Tampa Vein Specialists

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