DVT: The common, yet often silent killer

DVT Brochure Obesity. Smoking. High blood pressure. Almost everyone knows these are hazards to your health. But did you know that dehydration, a recent pregnancy, prolonged immobility, varicose veins and birth control pills can also trigger a life-threatening condition that kills more people annually than breast cancer and AIDS combined?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) threatens nearly one million Americans each year. Yet, surprisingly, many people have little or no awareness of this condition or know how to recognize its signs and symptoms. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the large veins, usually in the legs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation. If left untreated, this clot has the potential to move into the lungs and produce a pulmonary embolism requiring immediate medical attention. Although preventable, almost 300,000 Americans die annually from DVT and its primary complication, pulmonary embolism.

Fortunately, if caught in time, DVT is completely treatable. The classic signs of DVT, especially if it occurs in the lower extremities, are leg pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness or discoloration of the skin. The bad news is that, about half of the time, DVT has no symptoms at all. By the time you show symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, it might be too late for you to receive emergency care. Typical symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are: shortness of breath, rapid pulse, sweating, sharp chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, low blood pressure, unconsciousness and coughing up blood.

The first and most important step in protecting yourself from a potentially fatal DVT is to know whether you are at risk.

Please take the DVT risk assessment. Then, be sure to discuss the test results with your doctor to determine what you can do to protect yourself from a future DVT.

Be Clot Aware

Be Clot Aware is an initiative to educate patients on DVT risk and prevention. Follow Be Clot Aware on Twitter and YouTube: know your Caprini score and save your life.

The Illinois State Medical Society supports Be Clot Aware in partnership with ISMS member Joseph A. Caprini, MD, a vascular surgeon at NorthShore University HealthSystem.  Dr. Caprini’s DVT risk assessment is internationally recognized and made available for pdf download and is also available as a free iPhone app.

Free paper copies of the Caprini Risk Assessment can be requested via email. Please indicate the quantity you require and a mailing address.

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