Don't Ignore Risk Factors, Signs of Deep-Vein Clots
Q: I am 45 years old and very healthy. I had some bad calf pain last week and my doctor told me that we needed to make sure that I did not have a blood clot. I thought blood clots only occur in those with health problems. Am I at risk for a blood clot?
A: Blood clots refer to a blockage in the veins of the thigh, leg or arm. This is different than the clots that form in arteries when a stroke or heart attack or heart attack occurs. The clot that forms in the veins is located in the deep veins. It is also called a deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT. About 1 in 1000 people experience a DVT every year. Clots in superficial veins do not present any serious health threat. A DVT can potentially break apart and form a clot in other areas of the body. A piece that travels through the veins to towards the heart can become stuck in the small lung veins. This is called a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
Who is at risk?
If blood flow in the deep veins slows down or stops, a clot could form. Certain medications and conditions can also affect the way your blood clots. Thus, a family history of DVT or a blood condition that makes clotting more likely are risks for developing a blood clot. Age is a risk factor, with blood clots being more common after age 40. Birth-control pills and hormone-replacement pills can increase the risk of developing a blood clot. Women taking these medications should speak with their physicians to discuss whether the benefit of taking these medications for them outweighs the risk of blood clotting. Pregnancy and post-delivery are more risky times for blood clotting. Obesity also places you at risk for a clot. Situations that promote immobility are important risk factors. Many jobs involve a lot of sitting, and long car and plane rides offer limited movement. Right after surgery is also a common time when a clot can occur. There are also various medical conditions such as cancer and heart disease that may carry more risk for blood clots. Cigarette smoking is also a risk factor for a DVT.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you experience pain and/or swelling in your thigh, leg or arm, you should see a physician as soon as possible. …