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The Silent Killer - Each year, 600,000 patients will experience Deep Vein Thrombosis.

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The Silent Killer Each year, 600,000 patients will experience Deep Vein Thrombosis. Each year, at least 50,000 and perhaps as many as 200,000 patients will die from blood clots that obstruct blood flow to their lungs. In the UK alone it affects half a million people, many of them aged over 40. (British Medical Association, Complete Family Guide-7).The tragedy of these figures is that most of these problems could be avoided by simple, cost-effective measures. (Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism-2) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, commonly in the thigh or calf. The blood clot can either partially or completely block the flow of blood in the vein. (BUPA- 4) Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs when the flow of blood is restricted in a vein. In a matter of a few hours, or less, blood can begin to pool and coagulate in the veins, producing an ever-enlarging and hardening blood clot. If or when this clot dislodges (often triggered by decompression after flight), it may move through the body's veins to the lungs or even to the heart where even a small clot can block critical blood flow causing rapid death or, at best, paralysis. ...read more.


Consequently, blood flows back into the vein below the valve and collects in the lower leg veins. Pooling of blood in these lower leg veins causes swelling and tissue damage that may lead to painful ulcers. This condition is known as venous stasis disease. (American Venous Forum-8) Fortunately, prompt treatment of DVT can prevent complications such as pulmonary embolism and venous stasis disease. If DVT is suspected, additional tests will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. These tests are relatively painless. Your doctor may listen to blood flowing through the veins in your calf and thigh and behind your knee, using a special stethoscope placed on your leg. But the most reliable method of diagnosing DVT is called a duplex scan. An ultrasound microphone is placed on the leg over the affected area, and sound waves measure the veins and blood flow on a screen that is similar to a television. The duplex scan is very accurate for diagnosing DVT because it shows the vein and any blood clots on the screen. In cases of doubt, an x-ray called a venogram is used. In a venogram, dye is injected into a vein in the foot and an x-ray is taken of the leg. ...read more.


The government also advises people with conditions that make them more vulnerable to clots to seek medical advice before taking a long trip. Recently a group of students at University College London, decided to set up an experiment to find out how DVT could be prevented. The research team got 200 people to take a long haul flight. 84 of them were given special compression stockings to wear. None of the people who wore the compression stockings suffered from DVT, but one in ten of those who didn't wear the stockings did develop the condition and were immediately treated for it. (Guardian Newspaper-5) There a number of ways in which somebody could reduce the risk of developing DVT. These include doing some exercise while aboard a long haul flight, taking an aspirin, avoiding dehydration or by wearing compressed hosiery, which is manufactured by a number of companies. (Spotlight Health-6) "Keep in mind that the heart does not pump the blood back from your feet. What gets the blood back is the muscle action in your legs. This squeezes the veins and pushes the blood along, so you can do simple exercises with your legs while sitting. But the best thing is just to get up and walk around every once in a while." (Dr Charles Francis. ...read more.

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