As part of National Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) month we thought we would explain what DVT is and most importantly how to avoid it!
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is an abnormal clot that has formed in the deep veins of the leg or pelvis. In the majority of cases of DVT, painful swelling in the leg will be experienced as a ‘warning sign’. However, this is not always the case and in some cases there might not be any obvious signs or symptoms.
Most people have heard of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), but are surprised to learn the causes of the condition. Many people associate DVT with long haul flights and although this is a major cause there are many others which should be recognised.
If you are in hospital for an operation, your risk of getting a blood clot increases. This is because DVT is more likely to occur when you’re unwell or less active than usual. Pregnancy can also be a cause of DVT. During pregnancy, blood clots more easily. It’s the body’s way of preventing too much blood being lost during childbirth. Genetics also play a part and if a relative has previously had DVT you are more likely to have the condition too.
Professor Mark Whiteley shares his expert advice on the simple things that we can all do to significantly reduce the chances of a clot developing, particularly over the summer months:
KEEP ACTIVE WHEN FLYING…
“Perhaps one of the most well-known causes of DVT is inactivity when on a long haul flight, and this is something which we should all be aware of when jetting off on an exotic break. By reducing the activity in our legs, our blood flow becomes very sluggish in the deep veins – therefore putting us at a higher risk of a clot forming.
I always advise people to keep as active as possible when flying and ensure that you get up for a walk up and down the cabin aisle at least once per hour. I would also advise wearing properly fitted flight stockings. These speed up the flow of blood in the veins and therefore reduce the risks of the blood clotting.”
“When we fail to drink enough water, the composition of our blood changes and becomes more concentrated. When you are on a long flight, it is imperative to keep yourself fully hydrated as concentrated blood, coupled with a long period of inactivity will heighten the risk of a clot forming. It is also important to remember this whilst on holiday, in preparation for the return flight as our water consumption needs to significantly increase when in a hotter climate. People also tend to drink more alcohol when on a summer break which will not only dehydrate you, but will also act as a diuretic meaning that even more fluid is passed out in your urine. To counteract this, make sure that you balance your alcohol consumption with water to keep hydrated.”
KICK THE HABIT…
“The walls of our blood vessels are lined with a special sort of cell which stops any normal blood from clotting on it. Unfortunately, smoking can seriously damage these cells, therefore enabling the blood to clot and increasing the risk of DVT. In order to reduce this risk, I would recommend that you try and give up smoking at least three months before you are scheduled to embark on a long haul flight.”
SEE A SPECIALIST…
“If you are ever uncertain as to whether or not you are suffering from DVT, it is of vital importance that you go and see a venous specialist at the earliest opportunity so that they can carry out a duplex ultrasound scan and advise on treatment based on the results. A proper DVT scan will include all veins from ankle to groin, including the pelvic veins.
If a DVT is identified and treated immediately, in the majority of cases the clot is dissolved and the vein will return to normal. However, in very severe cases the clot can be removed under x-ray control. In the most extreme cases a DVT can cause an extension of thrombus – which can travel to the heart and lungs causing a condition called Pulmonary Embolus (PE). This is very serious and can even be fatal.
However in most patients the DVT stays in the leg and does not move. If the diagnosis is delayed and treatment not started, the clot can cause scar tissue in the wall, damaging the deep veins permanently. This can result in swollen, discoloured and painful legs, and sometimes leg ulcers, a condition called post thrombotic syndrome (PTS).”
If you are concerned that you have DVT and would like to book a consultation please call The Whiteley Clinic on 01483 477180 or contact us by clicking here.