Most of us are generally familiar with observances in March such as the start of spring and St. Patrick’s Day. But not every resident of Anamosa and elsewhere is aware of another annual occurrence: Deep Vein Thrombosis Month. It’s an occasion that promotes awareness and prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis, a condition that can cause pain, and even a need for hospice care in some.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice works with many clients who are dealing with various forms of thrombosis. Some of them have had this condition for years and have made it part of their life, while others have only been diagnosed recently so they’re still learning how to live with it.
In general terms, a deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot at a shallow or deep level. The deeper ones are often surrounded by muscle. The American Heart Association reports that as many as 2 million Americans can be affected by DVT, but overall awareness of this condition is pretty low.
Where they come from is something of a mystery: they’re more likely in people who aren’t mobile, including people on bed rest from a prolonged illness.
In some cases, Deep Vein Thrombosis is something that stays in your legs, usually below the knees. It may hurt a little sometimes, look bad, and make you feel uncomfortable or painful, and maybe even cut off some of the circulation below the clot, so your foot may not get a lot of blood to it, causing it to be numb.
In other cases, however, the clot may be located higher up in the leg or higher in the body, which increases the risk of it getting loose, breaking up, and moving through the body’s bloodstream. It may naturally break down further or it may lodge in the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, a dangerous situation that can cause blockages throughout the whole body. Blood may pool in areas, which can cause pain. Clots also could go into the brain and block blood flow to major arteries or veins, causing a stroke or even death.
Spreading the word
DVT is also something that not everyone is aware they have, which can add to the fear and caution surrounding them. After all, it’s certainly concerning that something you may have in your body that you may not know is there could potentially hurt or kill you. Part of the reason is the varying size of any clot or clots, since you may not know that small ones are there.
One aspect of Deep Vein Thrombosis Month includes helping people know what danger signs to watch out for.
This can include pain in the area where a DVT is located, plus warmness and discolored skin. You may feel muscle strain, or in some cases, you won’t feel anything.
The month’s efforts include educating people about the condition and then offering information about ways to get help.
Because DVT is common, there are a variety of groups that focus on providing education, support, and relief. For instance, the National Blot Clot Alliance has an initiative called “Stop the Clot”. The organization’s goal is to spread awareness and increase the sense of community among those who are at risk of blood clots or currently have them.
The NBCA offers a site that has info about symptoms and signs of clots, as well as resources for those trying to lower their risk, prevent it, or get help if they have been diagnosed with DVT and don’t know where to start protecting themselves.
Although the organization said it’s happy to work with people any time of year, it says there’s a lot of attention given to people who seek help during this month.
In 2022, the group encouraged people who wanted to help the cause to perform some task that involves 100,000, such as taking 100,000 steps.
Depending on the type of DVT someone may have, there are a variety of treatment methods available. A healthcare provider should be involved in these discussions since he or she likely will be familiar with treatment options and could recommend a certain one based on a patient’s condition.
One of the more effective methods is the most simple: compression socks. These essentially squeeze the legs and keep clots from moving and sometimes breaking them up. It also helps reduce discomfort and swelling.
Socks are meant to be worn throughout the day, although they aren’t necessarily recommended while sleeping: since the person is reclining, there’s less pressure.
Another common treatment is anticoagulation therapy, which is called thrombolysis. Here, a trained provider uses small tools to go into an affected vein where a clot is located. They then remove the clot.
People with a lot of clots in the same vein or the same area may require an IVC filter, which helps pump blood through the body and catches loose clots.
Generally, being active is another easy prevention or treatment method, since even walking can help break them up or reduce their growth.