Know the Warning Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

On March 20, 2024
In Blog

March is Blood Clot Awareness Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Anyone can be affected by a blood clot regardless of age, gender, or race.” In fact, The CDC estimates that 900,000 people in the US experience a blood clot each year, while many more go undiagnosed. This can lead to long term complications, reoccurrences, and sudden death. That is why it’s important to learn the early warning signs and symptoms, and share this information with your friends, family, and neighbors to increase awareness. Read on to learn more.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Per the CDC, deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT, “is when a blood clot forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower leg, thigh, pelvis, or arm. A blood clot can partially or completely block blood flow in the vein. When a DVT is left untreated, a part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).”  When DVT and PE occur, it is also called venous thromboembolism, or VTE.

Why is this dangerous?

Here are some statistics from the CDC:

  • “One-third (about 33%) of people with DVT/PE will have a recurrence within 10 years.”

  • “One third to one half will have long-term complications (post-thrombotic syndrome), such as swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb.”

  • “Estimates suggest that 60,000-100,000 Americans die of DVT/PE” annually.

What are the risk factors?

The National Library of Medicine lists advanced age, immobility, surgery, and obesity as known risk factors for blood clots, while the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute includes periods of infection and inflammation as additional factors. Studies also show diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and other diseases can increase your risk, as can smoking and the use of birth control pills, according to the American Heart Association. There are inherited blood clotting disorders that can increase the odds as well, the most common being Factor V Leiden or a mutation on the prothrombin gene. Therefore, it is good to know if there is a family history of blood clots to inform your healthcare providers.

What are the warning signs?

Penn Medicine reports that “DVT most often affects large veins in the thigh and lower leg, usually on one side of the body.” Serious warning signs may include a reddish discoloration of the skin that feels warm to the touch, and painful swelling. According to the American Heart Association, when a blood clot “breaks free from a vein wall, travels to the lungs, and blocks some or all of the blood supply,” symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain under the rib cage that may worsen with deep breaths, a rapid heart rate, feeling faint or passing out, and coughing.

The Alliance for Health Equity strives to advance a more equitable, resilient, and healthy Greater Coatesville community. If you think you are experiencing a blot clot, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. For information on where to get care, how to find a doctor, and how to secure insurance for Coatesville residents, click here today.

The Alliance for Health Equity (formerly Brandywine Health Foundation) is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission by providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students that address health and economic disparities and social justice. We also build partnership programs and give voice to those often left out of community solution building to improve the overall health of their communities. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.