The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care regularly works with patients to help them focus on staying as well as possible through their period of care. Though they do ultimately have a terminal diagnosis and will likely weaken over time, they still can be susceptible to other health problems due to a reduced immune system or other complications.
This could make it easier to catch contagious conditions like colds or flus, which could accelerate their primary health condition. Falls and injury are also possible, and suffering the symptoms and recovery from these conditions in a weakened state can also diminish a patient’s overall quality of life.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
One area of concern for people any age is something called Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, which happens when a blood begins to clot in a vein, often in the lower leg or thigh. If the clot grows large enough to cause the vein to swell, there’s the possibility of the clot breaking loose and moving into the rest of the body, especially the lungs. This can cause a dangerous pulmonary embolism which can reduce or stop the body’s blood flow and cause other internal problems.
Even if the clot remains in the leg, it can still cause severe pain, discoloration, cramping, or soreness.
The condition can sometimes be caused by the leg remaining in the same position for the same period of time, and is sometimes seen in office workers or frequent travelers, such as people who drive or take airplanes often.
It can be caused by other factors that cause pressure on the pelvis, legs or spine, or aggravated by medical conditions that impact circulation of the body, everything from cancer to trauma. Lifestyle factors like cigarette smoking or obesity could also increase your DVT risk.
DVT in hospice situations
Patients receiving hospice care are especially susceptible to Deep Vein Thrombosis, and therefore higher risk of pulmonary embolisms.
In some cases, it could be due to weak physical health or a weak immune system. Plus, patients may spend a good deal of time sitting or lying down which could aggravate any leg or thigh problems and possibly increase swelling.
Clients on hospice care due to terminal conditions like cancer or heart disease may also be more susceptible to thrombosis situations.
In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, cancer patients are more likely to have bleeding problems and recurring thrombosis in comparison to non-cancer patients.
Although there hasn’t been substantial research into the role of patients in palliative care or hospice care situations, what has been seen is that the progression of cancerous tissue may cause a cycle of regular internal bleeding and coagulation, which increases the possibility of clotting.
Both types of thromboses, the pulmonary and the deep vein, are actually a major cause of death among elderly patients.
A Medline study of 1,932 patients with thrombosis who are age 70 or older was compared to 2,554 non-elderly patients with deep vein thrombosis. The elderly patients were more likely to have higher risk factors of all sorts of thrombosis, including recent hospitalization, pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and similar factors.
What to look for
In some cases, Cedar Rapids area residents may not realize they have Deep Vein Thrombosis. But there are other possible indicators. While these sensations may signal other minor or serious conditions, collectively they could show DVT, or at least encourage a provider or nurse to take a look.
These can include:
- Warmth or tenderness in their legs or thighs.
- A change from light tenderness into pain
- Swelling but only on one leg
- Soreness, but without visible bruising or trauma
- Discolored, reddish skin
What may help
Though everyone has different reasons for having thromboses, there are some similar methods to reduce pain and swelling to lower the risk before greater harm takes place.
People with Deep Vein Thromboses are encouraged to get up and move around regularly. For instance, people in office settings are supposed to make sure they walk around at least hourly or perhaps more exercise and leg stretching on a break or after/before work.
Lifestyle changes can also reduce one’s risk, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. If weight loss occurs due to more regular exercise, that’s even more positive. Although hospice situations may not have the ability to make these changes over time, they or their caregivers can still encourage regular physical activity.
Health care providers can play a helpful role as well.
When a patient is diagnosed with health conditions known to aggravate thrombosis, a doctor or other provider should discuss the possibility of thrombosis, and encourage the patient to regularly keep moving.
Beyond this, he or she may consider prescribing anti-coagulant medication, which can help the blood from clotting.
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is eager to help educate patients and their families about the signs of and risks of DVT along with encouraging methods to reduce it.