What is Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Each year, approximately 1 to 3 in every 1,000 adults develop a DVT (deep vein thrombosis)  or pulmonary embolism in the United States, although as many as 900,000 people could be affected each year. Of those affected, up to 300,000 people will die each year as a result of DVT/PE. It’s the third most common vascular disease, behind heart attacks and strokes. 

Shocked? DVTs don’t get much of the spotlight when it comes to vascular diseases, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be informed. If you or a loved one has an upcoming orthopedic surgery keep reading to learn what a DVT is, as well as the symptoms, risk factors and complications. There are things you can do to prevent as well as treat a post surgical DVT, increasing your quality of life and health. 

What is DVT? 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein located deep within your body, usually in your leg. A blood clot can form in your veins and block the flow of blood. It usually happens in your lower leg, thigh or pelvis but it can happen anywhere including your arm, brain, intestines, liver or kidney. Signs you have a DVT:

  • Swelling of your leg or arm (sometimes this happens suddenly).
  • Pain or tenderness in your leg or arm (may only happen when standing or walking).
  • The area of your leg or arm that’s swollen or hurts may be warmer than usual.
  • Skin that’s red or discolored.
  • The veins near your skin’s surface may be larger than normal.
  • Abdominal pain or flank pain (when blood clots affect the veins deep inside your abdomen).
  • Severe headache (usually of sudden onset) and/or seizures (when blood clots affect the veins of your brain).

What causes DVT?

DVT becomes more likely if you have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Damage to a vein from surgery or inflammation and damage due to infection or injury- the most common cause.
  • Having an inherited (genetic) condition increases your risk of blood clots.
  • Having cancer and some of its treatments (chemotherapy).
  • Having a history of deep vein thrombosis in yourself or your family.
  • Not moving for long periods of time, like sitting for a long time on trips in a car, truck, bus, train or airplane or being immobile after surgery or a serious injury.
  • Being pregnant or having recently delivered a baby.
  • Being older than 40 (although a DVT can affect people of any age).
  • Having overweight/obesity.
  • Having an autoimmune disease, like lupus, vasculitis or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Using tobacco products.
  • Having varicose veins.
  • Taking birth control pills or hormone therapy.
  • Having a central venous catheter or pacemaker.
  • Having COVID-19.

What are the Complications?

Even though deep vein thrombosis is not life-threatening, the blood clots have the potential to break free and travel through your bloodstream. A pulmonary embolism (PE) happens when the traveling blood clots (emboli) become lodged in the blood vessels of your lung. Since this can be a life-threatening condition, you need a quick diagnosis and treatment, as sudden death is the first symptom in about one-quarter (25%) of people who have a PE. 

Among people who have had a DVT, one third to one half will have long-term complications (post-thrombotic syndrome) such as swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb.

How Can I Prevent a DVT?

After you have a DVT, you’ll need to reduce your risk of future DVT/PE clots by:

  • Taking your medications exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to.
  • Keeping your follow-up appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. These tell your provider how well your treatment is working.
  • Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods, being more active and avoiding tobacco products.

If you’ve never had a DVT, but have an increased risk of developing one, be sure to:

  • Exercise your calf muscles if you need to sit still for a long time. Stand up and walk at least every half hour if you’re on a long flight. Or get out of the car every hour if you’re on a long road trip.
  • Get out of bed and move around as soon as you can after you’re sick or have surgery. The sooner you move around, the less chance you have of developing a DVT.
  • Take medications or use compression stockings after surgery (if your provider prescribes them) to reduce your risk of a clot.
  • Follow up with your provider as directed and follow their recommendations to reduce your risk of a clot.

How is DVT Diagnosed and Treated? 

DVTs are commonly diagnosed through ultrasound, venography, MRI, or CT scan.

Physicians may recommend blood thinners, compression socks, elevating legs, and sometimes invasive catheter-based procedures if its serious. Additionally, several clinical studies have shown that compression stockings improve the symptoms of leg pain and swelling by at least 50% as long as they’re worn daily from morning to evening (they don’t have to be worn overnight).

Some people with a DVT may need to be treated in the hospital, while others may be able to have outpatient treatment. For patients recovering at home, the PlasmaFlow™ Portable Compression Device can reduce their risk of DVT by providing continuous, hospital-quality vascular compression therapy. This device protects patients and is simple to use and comfortable to wear. Legacy Medical Sales is a proud supplier of this outpatient treatment option.

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) declared deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a Never Event in 2008. CHEST guidelines recommend extending thromboprophylaxis in the outpatient period for up to 35 days from the day of surgery for patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery

Why Should I use the PlasmaFlow after surgery?

The PlasmaFlow™ Portable Compression Device provides continuous DVT prevention for patients returning home to recover. This portable compression device is comfortable and 

convenient, ensuring better protection for patients and peace of mind for providers.

Features of PlasmaFlow:

  • Tubeless design promotes ambulation and supports patient compliance
  • Easy one-button operation turns the unit on and switches between two modes
  • Visual display shows up-to-the-hour timer, mode, and pressure level
  • Rechargeable battery provides up to nine hours of battery life

Knowing your risk factors for DVT and how to possibly prevent them can go a long way in maintaining a healthy lengthy life.

Click Below to find out if you might be at risk for Deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Make sure to order your PlasmaFlow compression device if you have an upcoming orthopedic surgery. Need assistance in getting your PlasmaFlow device or other DVT compression garments? Simply call a sales rep at Legacy Medical Sales at 1-800-446-7310.