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Are You At Risk for DVT?

Are You At Risk for DVT?

The movie The 33 details the lives of 33 Chilean miners who were exploring a vein of copper deep in the earth when a cave-in trapped them in the narrow shaft. If you want to understand what deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is, the comparison is a pretty good one. For miners, the deeper they dig, the tougher it is to get them out if something bad happens. For those with a blood clot (thrombus), if it’s lodged in a deep vein of your leg, the more potentially life-threatening the situation becomes. The clot can travel from those deep veins back through your heart and lodge in your lungs, where it causes sudden death about 25 percent of the time.

Five years ago the NIH estimated DVT affected 300,000 to 600,000 folks in the US annually. Today the CDC believes the number could be as high as 900,000.

The biggest risk factors for DVT include a previous blood clot (take blood thinner, if prescribed, and two 82 mg aspirins daily if your doc agrees), obesity (lose weight by banishing added sugars and syrups, processed foods, trans and sat fats), immobility (stand up frequently and walk as much as possible) and surgery (that’s why post-op you wear calf massagers).

The most obvious symptoms of DVT are swelling and reddish-purple discoloration in a lower extremity. If a clot is suspected, screening can be done using ultrasound, venography and MRI. If a doctor finds a DVT, treatment is typically anticoagulation therapy. And great news: All 33 miners survived.

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