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Many risk factors, symptoms for deep-vein thrombosis

The Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis provides a list of frequently asked questions to educate people about this potentially deadly condition. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation.

Some of the questions and answers are listed below.

Q. What age group is at risk for DVT?

A. DVT occurs most commonly in adults over 40, but anyone at risk can develop it.

Q. What are the symptoms of DVT?

A. Symptoms of DVT may include pain, swelling, tenderness, discoloration or redness of the affected area, and skin that is warm to the touch. However, as many as half of all DVT episodes produce minimal symptoms or are completely “silent.”

Because a number of other conditions — including muscle strains, skin infections, and phlebitis (inflammation of veins) — display symptoms similar to those of DVT, the condition may be difficult to diagnose without specific tests. You should see a doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

Q. I’m taking oral contraceptives. Does that mean my risk is higher?

A. Yes. Both oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy may increase the tendency of the blood to clot. Keep in mind, however, that millions of women have taken oral contraceptives without encountering this problem; the affected population is relatively small.

The FAQ does not mention that a number of studies have indicated that oral contraceptives containing the compound drospirenone put users at up to three times the risk of blood clots compared to other birth control pills on the market. Pills with drospirenone include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella.

Q. How many people in the United States are affected by DVT?

A. DVT occurs in about 2 million Americans each year, and up to 600,000 people are hospitalized in the United States each year for DVT and its primary complication, pulmonary embolism. An estimated 300,000 first-time cases of DVT occur in the United States every year. More people die in the United States from pulmonary embolism than from breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Q. Is long-distance travel safe if I am at risk for DVT?

A. If you are at risk for DVT, or have experienced a prior DVT or PE, you can still make long-distance trips, as long as you take some simple precautions. Before leaving for a long trip, practice calf and leg exercises you can do while sitting. During the trip, stretch your legs as much as possible. You may also want to wear compression stockings to help the circulation of blood in your legs. Stay hydrated, because dehydration can increase the concentration of clotting factors in the blood. If you will be traveling for more than four hours, you may consider treatment with an anticoagulant, or “blood thinner,” before you leave.

Q. How is DVT diagnosed?

A. In the diagnosis of DVT, doctors take into account the patient’s specific risk factors, the patient’s symptoms, and the results of objective tests, such as some method of imaging the clot. Possible tests include: duplex ultrasound, venography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the d-Dimer test.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries while on Beyaz or similar birth control pills.

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