Saturday, April 18, 2009


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the medical name for any blood clot that forms in the deep veins. Typically, DVT occurs in the legs, but can also occur in the arms. In any case of DVT, there is a 3% chance that the patient will die. So, any indication of DVT must be thorougly tested and DVT patients should be hospitalized until the condition has stabilized. The greatest danger from DVT is that part of the blood clot will break free and travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism.

350,000 to 600,000 American's suffer from DVT each year and at least 100,000 annual deaths can be attributed to DVT and related complications.

Sometimes a DVT will have no symptoms, but commonly the affected extremity becomes swollen, red and hot. If a doctor suspects DVT, he or she will run a test called a d-dimer which checks for enzymes produced when the body is attempting to break down a blood clot. They will also do an ultrasound of the veins. When a DVT is diagnosed the patient is given anticoagulants to break down the blood clot. In severe cases the patient may be fitted with an inferior veina cava filter. These devices strain the blood preventing clotting. Today they can be placed using catheters. Placement used to require surgery.

The following factors, called Virchow's Triad, are known to affect clot formation: rate of blood flow, the consistency (thickness) of the blood, and qualities of the vessel wall.

Patients who have just had surgery or that are bed ridden or who have had to remain stationary for long periods of time are most likely to develop DVT.

Since this sick affects so many people and can be quite lethal, but has few outwardly disturbing manifestations I rate it a

5 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 2 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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