Why is March Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month?


March is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month. It's no coincidence that the month selected to raise awareness about this potentially fatal disease is the only month named with an action verb. The Vascular Disease Foundation wants consumers to take action to prevent deep vein thrombosis.

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in the deep veins in the legs. These clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE). Even when they don't, they can cause permanent damage to the leg veins that results in long-term pain, swelling, change in skin color and skin ulcers.

Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism affect more than 600,000 people every year. Some people experience swelling and varying levels of discomfort in the affected area, while others don't feel anything at all. The symptoms of DVT can also be similar to those of other conditions, like a pulled muscle. Because some people with DVT don't have any symptoms, and because the symptoms can masquerade as a more benign ailment, there's often a delay in diagnosis. That's when DVT can be fatal. DVT/PE is the fourth leading cause of death in western society, with more fatalities than breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents combined.

Anyone can develop DVT.  The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk.  Risk factors include:

>> Hospitalization

>> Recent major surgery or injury

>> Personal or family history of a clotting disorder or DVT

>> Cancer and cancer treatments

>> Immobility

>> Prolonged sitting when traveling

>> Obesity

>> Smoking

The VDF offers a simple risk assessment at vdf.org/DVTtest.

When diagnosed and treated early enough, DVT isn't always life-threatening. Risk can be reduced by:

>> Knowing your risk factors

>> Exercising regularly

>> Maintaining a healthy weight

>> Not smoking

Talking to health care providers about preventing blood clots before any surgical procedures or hospitalizations can also help reduce the risk of DVT/PE.

The VDF encourages taking action to prevent DVT, starting in March. Learn about the symptoms and signs of DVT/PE, talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors, and march, walk, run, bike or swim as if your life depends on it, because it does.

To learn more about deep vein thrombosis, including symptoms, risk factors, and prevention tips, visit vdf.org.