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Questions and answers about 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.

A clot can be deadly if it breaks off and travels to the lungs – a condition called pulmonary embolism.

Some of the questions and answers are listed below.

Q. How is DVT/PE treated?

A. The initial treatment of both DVT and PE is anticoagulants, also known as “blood thinners.” These medications do not actually thin blood; instead, they block the action of various clotting factors and prevent blood clots from growing in order to allow the body’s own natural processes to destroy clots over time.

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 the affected population is relatively small.

Note: a number of studies have indicated that birth control pills containing the artificial hormone drospirenone carry up to three times the risk of potentially deadly blood clots as other oral contraceptives on the market. Pills with drospirenone include Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz and Ocella.

Q. After being diagnosed with DVT or PE, what limitations will I experience?

A. DVT and PE usually resolve successfully, allowing patients to return to their previous activities. Listen to your body while exercising, but recognize that immobility is an important risk factor for DVT and PE, so activity is important in helping to prevent future blood clots.

Q. What is the chance that I will have another DVT or PE?

A. It depends on the specifics surrounding your first DVT or PE. If the blood clot occurred as a result of surgery or trauma, and the risk factor was considered temporary, then the risk of having another DVT or PE may be very low. If the blood clot occurred spontaneously, without any risk factors being present, the risk of another clot is 30 percent over the next 10 years.

Q. I’m in good physical condition, so do I need to worry about deep vein thrombosis?

A. Most healthy people may be at low risk of developing DVT, but it can happen. Be aware of the risk factors and that over time your risk factors can change. Assess your risk on a regular basis, and if you observe anything suspicious, speak with your healthcare provider right away.

Q. Does being overweight affect my risk of developing deep vein thrombosis?

A. Obesity is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and DVT. It makes it more difficult for blood to circulate throughout the body and often results in low activity levels, both of which can increase your risk of DVT.

Q. If I develop DVT, how long will it take to medically treat?

A. In patients with an easily identified and reversible cause of a deep vein thrombosis, four-to-six weeks of therapy may be sufficient. For cases in which the risk of developing new thromboses remains high (such as in patients with certain cancers or genetic abnormalities), therapy may need to be continued for months to years. Some patients remain on oral medication for life.

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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