Who gets DVT?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 people in the United States are affected by deep vein thromboses (DVT). Clots are most common in leg veins, where they can cause pain, swelling, and redness. Although blood clots can occur at any age, the risk increases with age; after 40, the risk almost doubles every 10 years. Within one month of diagnosis, 10 to 30 percent of people will die, according to the CDC.
Signs and symptoms of DVT
A blood clot is a medical emergency because of the possibility of a pulmonary embolism. If you experience any of the DVT symptoms below, seek medical aid right away, especially if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. Abnormal blood clotting is among the more dangerous symptoms to emerge in patients with severe Covid-19.
Signs of DVT in a leg:
- Pain (like a pulled muscle or a charley horse)
- Discoloration (red or blue)
- Warm to touch
Signs of pulmonary embolism:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unexplained cough
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid heartbeat
“Symptoms can be vague, such as pain or feeling like you just can’t get enough air,” says Bengt Zöller, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine at Lund University in Sweden.
Although it’s key to remember the signs of DVT, prevention is even more crucial, says Nigel Key, MD, an adult hematologist specializing in non-malignant hematologic disorders, particularly those affecting blood coagulation, at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Because DVTs and pulmonary embolisms can be difficult to recognize, we need to emphasize prevention.”
Keep these measures in mind to help you avoid life-threatening clotting.
How to prevent or avoid DVT in legs
Review your medications for any blood clot side effects
A few months prior to her DVT, Theobald had been prescribed birth control pills to regulate her period. All estrogen-containing medication (as well as the vaginal device NuvaRing and birth control pills containing drospirenone) may increase clot risk, as does pregnancy, with risk returning to normal about 12 weeks after delivery.
If your doctor is worried about your clotting risk, they may recommend non-hormonal contraception such as a barrier method or a copper IUD. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urges physicians to consider prescribing a patch or gel rather than a pill for postmenopausal women on hormone replacement therapy, since delivering hormones through the skin doesn’t seem to affect clotting risk.
Research, including a study published in 2016 in BMJ, shows that testosterone treatment raises the risk for DVT in men. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration requires prescription testosterone products to carry a warning about the risk. Research, including a 2107 study published in the BMJ, shows that prednisone and other steroids, especially at high doses, also increase DVT risk in both men and women.