March is DVT Awareness Month – DVT the Silent Killer

What you need to know about DVT

  • Some DVT’s are “silent” and may be present with minimal symptoms
  • Complications from DVT kill up to 200,000 people a year in the U.S…..more than AIDS and breast cancer combined
  • More people suffer from DVT annually than heart attack or stroke
  • DVT occurs in approximately two million Americans each year
  • While most victims are 60 years or older, DVT can strike anyone at risk
  • The leading medical factors that cause DVT are: injury, immobility, surgery and/or illness that may include cancer, clotting disorders, and inflammatory diseases
  • DVT most often occurs in hospitalized patients following surgery, individuals whose legs remain immobilized for long stretches of time, and individuals confined to bed for prolonged periods
  • Travelers who have had a DVT in the past and are considering travel with prolonged periods of sitting should wear prescription-strength compression stockings and walk every 30 minutes

    Keep a friend or loved one healthy-tell them about DVT

    Age, family history, obesity, immobility, pregnancy, recent surgery or injury to the hips or knees, contraceptive pills, and hormone replacement therapy are some risk factors that make a DVT more likely to occur. Potential complications of a DVT are the possibility of a PE, Pulmonary Embolism. A PE happens when a piece of the blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream and becomes lodged in the lung. This may cause chest pain, shortness of breath and you should seek medical treatment.

    If you have associated risk factors, or want to help prevent the risk of developing a blood clot, it is important to wear gradient compression hose during air travel, long car, bus or train rides due to prolonged immobility. Stockings also help to relieve swelling, pain and post thrombotic syndrome. PTS is a late complication of DVT in which signs and symptoms may include pain, edema, hyperpigmentation and skin ulceration. Some additional DVT treatments include anticoagulant medicines and surgery. If you want to help prevent the occurrence of a DVT you should look at your risk factors, exercise your legs, wear loose-fitting clothing, keep hydrated with water and wear graduated compression stockings.

    So, what is a DVT and how is it formed?

    The arteries transport the oxygen rich blood away from the heart. The veins are thin-walled blood vessels that carry oxygen poor blood from the tissues back to the heart. In order to move the blood against gravity the leg muscles squeeze the deep veins to move the blood back to the lungs and heart. The human body has three types of veins; superficial veins which are the veins that are close to the skin (the ones that you can see), deep veins which lie within the muscle structure within the body and perforating veins which connect the deep veins to the superficial veins. The perforating veins contain one-way valves for the return of the blood back to the heart. A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused when a blood clot is formed within the deep veins. This most often occurs near a venous valve. The DVT can permanently damage the vein wall and valve with scarring or fibrosis which can cause them to become incompetent resulting in reflux (backward) flow of blood and venous congestion. A DVT can be dangerous because a fragment can break loose from the deep vein, travel through the vein and lodge in the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. Consult with your physician to determine if you have risk factors and seek advice on appropriate prophylactic (preventative) measures, including the amount of compression to wear. If you experience these symptoms it would be best to seek a physician for advice. If your physician diagnoses deep vein thrombosis this can be effectively treated.

      In summary, here are a few suggestions to combat the possibility of developing a DVT:

    • Exercise your legs
    • Wear loose fitting clothing
    • Drink plenty of water Elevate legs when possible
    • Wear gradient compression hosiery
    • Stretch and exercise your legs at least once every hour, especially when traveling
      Additionally, the signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:

    • Pain in the leg
    • Leg tenderness
    • Edema
    • Increased warmth of the leg
    • Redness in the leg (hyperpigmentation)
    • Change in color of one leg to purple or blue
    • Skin Ulceration

    How Support Hose with Gradient Compression Help Prevent DVT

    Gradient compression stockings not only minimize the risk of DVT, but may also be used in treatment to reduce swelling and prevent blood from pooling in leg veins. Gradient compression hose apply the greatest compression at the ankle gradually getting less up the length of the thigh to improve circulation of blood in the legs and increase the flow of blood back to the heart.


    Wikipedia describes a thrombus or blood clot as the final product of the process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel. This is a step in the process to prevent and stop bleeding.


    If you experience these symptoms it would be best to seek a physician for advice. If your physician diagnoses deep vein thrombosis this can be effectively treated.

    One of our great customers wrote to us:

    “I ordered compression stocking from you after my DVT a few years ago. I was thrilled with your excellent customer service and pricing. The best part is that you listened to my problems getting the socks off after a hip replacement and offered some tips that were a bit off the wall—but they worked!

    After my DVT, I was inspired to increase awareness of venous blood clots so I helped launch a new national nonprofit called the National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombophilia (NATT). Our mission is focused on patient service as well as public and professional education. We’ve done patient seminars across the country and have produced quality treatment materials for providers. Our newsletters, one on post-thrombotic syndrome, are on our website. Here in the Twin Cities, we’re starting a patient support group and a local chapter that we’d like to model for the rest of the nation. I invite you to review our website– and maybe let patients know about us.”

    So here it is:

    The National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombophilia (NATT) is a nationwide, community-based, volunteer health organization formed in August 2003. Our goal is to ensure that people suffering from thrombosis and thrombophilia get early diagnosis, optimal treatment, and quality patient and family support. NATT fosters research, education, support, and advocacy on behalf of those at risk of, or affected by, blood clots.

    Some of our specific activities include:

    Conducting patient seminars across the country Creating prevention and treatment brochures Publishing quarterly newsletters targeted to patients and providers Advocating for issues important to those who have experienced, or are at risk of, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolism (PE) We invite you to review our website and to consider becoming a volunteer with NATT. Thank you!

    The National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombophilia