Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clots)
March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month. Are you at risk? Find out how two national organizations are raising awareness and making a difference.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is often an underdiagnosed and serious, but preventable medical condition.
DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. These clots usually develop in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, but they can also occur in the arm. Another type of blood clot, called pulmonary embolism (PE), can form when part of a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.
It is important to know about DVT and PE because they can happen to anybody and can cause serious illness, disability, and in some cases, death. The good news is that blood clots are preventable and treatable if discovered early.
Know the Symptoms
About half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of DVT that occur in the affected part of the body:
- Redness of the skin
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
You can have a PE without any symptoms of a DVT. Signs and symptoms of a PE include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
- Coughing up blood
- Very low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or fainting
If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Steps to Protect Yourself
The following tips can help prevent blood clots:
- Move around as soon as possible after having been on bed rest, such as after surgery, illness, or injury
- If you're at risk for blood clots, talk to your doctor about:
- Graduated compression stockings (sometimes called "medical compression stockings")
- Medication (called anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots.
- When sitting for long periods of time, such as when traveling for more than four hours:
- Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours.
- Exercise your legs while you're sitting by:
- Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
- Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
- Tightening and releasing your leg muscles
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- You can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being active, and following your doctor's recommendations based on your individual risk factors.
CDC is partnering with the following organizations to raise awareness of blood clots:
This is Serious is a national campaign originally developed by the Vascular Disease Foundation and then taken over by Duke University. The purpose of this campaign is to increase awareness and action around the prevention of DVT and PE among women. The campaign encourages women to be aware of symptoms and to talk with their doctors about their risks. The campaign is conducted through a variety of channels including live community education activities, a website, and print materials.
Stop the Clot, Spread the Word isa new national campaign from the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA). This new program will help to reduce blood clots through awareness, education, and community engagement. NBCA plans to incorporate a far-reaching, awareness-building effort driven by a dynamic digital and social media initiative. This campaign will be extended further through the traditional media such as television, radio, and print.
CDC launched a first population-based pilot project to monitor the occurrence of blood clots. Two pilot sites are testing data collection methods that will help with future development of national monitoring of blood clots. CDC has also funded research to learn more about risk factors and improve the diagnosis and treatment of DVT through the Thrombosis and Hemostasis Centers Research and Prevention Network. In addition, CDC funds health promotion and wellness initiatives to provide people with information about how to prevent DVT and its complications.