Assess your risk for DVT

Assess your risk for DVTDeep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs. If this blood clot breaks free and begins to travel through the bloodstream, it can become lodged in the lungs and block blood flow. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and it can be fatal.

Although many people have never heard of DVT, each year it claims the lives of up to 200,000 people in the United States, which is more than diseases like AIDS and breast cancer combined. Understanding what causes deep vein thrombosis can help you determine your personal risk for this condition and how to prevent it from affecting you.

What are the Risk Factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Certain factors will place you at a higher risk of developing DVT, like:

  • Staying seated for extended periods of time. The contractions of your calf muscles help blood circulate through your legs. When the calf muscles aren’t moving, the blood in the legs can clot. This means that if you spend a great deal of time driving, flying in an airplane or sitting at a desk, you may have a higher risk of DVT.
  • Long hospital stays. Just as with staying seated, lying prone in a hospital bed means your calf muscles aren’t helping blood circulate, increasing the risk of DVT.
  • Blood-clotting disorders. If you have a disorder that causes your blood to clot more easily, you may be at higher risk of DVT, but this may not be a problem unless other risk factors are also present.
  • Pregnancy. Because pregnancy exerts more pressure on the veins in your legs, it can lead to a higher risk of clots. This risk can persist for up to six weeks after giving birth.
  • Surgery or injury. If you’ve recently had surgery or injured your veins, this can slow your blood flow, which increases the risk of clotting.
  • Family history. You will be at a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism if someone else in your family has experienced one of the conditions.
  • Excess weight. The more we weight, the more pressure our bodies place on the veins in our legs, increasing the risk of clots.
  • Smoking. Smoking tobacco affects circulation and clotting and will increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis.
  • Age. DVT can happen to people of all ages, but those over the age of 60 are at higher risk.
  • Height. Tall men are at a higher risk of clotting.

If you have one or more of these risk factors, this does not guarantee that you will develop DVT. Likewise, there is no guarantee that you will not develop DVT if you have none of these factors.

How Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Prevented?

To minimize your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, do your best to incorporate strategies like these into your lifestyle:

  • Move around regularly during long trips.
  • Get up and move as soon as is medically safe after major surgery.
  • Pump your feet and calf muscles if you are confined to bed rest.
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

If you have any questions about risk and prevention of deep vein thrombosis or want to implement a plan to help you develop healthier veins by improving your overall health, visit a vein specialist.


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