Blood Clot in the Legs (cont.)
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Prevention
The key to prevention is to reverse any risk factors, for example:
- If you are obese, lose weight.
- Avoid periods of prolonged immobility. If you are flying on an airplane for a long flight, get up and move around every 15 to 30 minutes, or do simple stretching exercises while seated.
- Keep the legs elevated while sitting down or in bed.
- Avoid high-dose estrogen pills, unless they are deemed necessary by your doctor.
If you have had surgery recently, preventive treatment may be prescribed to avoid formation of a clot.
- You may be instructed to get out of bed several times a day during the recovery period.
- Sequential compression devices (SCDs) may be placed on the legs. Their squeezing action has been shown to reduce the probability of clot formation. You also may be given elastic compression socks or stockings to wear.
- Low-molecular-weight heparin or low-dose warfarin may be prescribed to prevent clot formation.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Prognosis
Most DVTs resolve on their own. If a PE occurs, the prognosis can be more severe.
- About 25% of people who have a PE will die suddenly, and that will be the only symptom.
- 10 to 30% of people with DVT/PE will die within 1 month of diagnosis.
If an individual has had one deep vein thrombosis, they are more likely than the average person to have another deep vein thrombosis.
- The CDC estimates 33% of people with DVT/PE will have a recurrence within 10 years.
- Recurrence of DVT is more common in patients with risk factors such as cancer or inherited blood-clotting problems. Recurrence is less common in patients who have short-term risk factors, such as surgery or temporary inactivity.
- Closely follow the prevention instructions from the doctor.
- Anticoagulant therapy lowers the death rate from pulmonary embolism significantly.
"Data & Statistics." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 8 June 2012.
Landaw, S. A., et al. "Approach to the diagnosis and therapy of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis." UpToDate. Feb. 2014.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/3/2015
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