Dr. Mona Khanna explains Deep Vein Thrombosis and what you need to know to reduce your risk of experiencing symptoms.
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Rebecca: If you have a serious health condition, you make think you’d recognize the symptoms but that’s not always the case. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says only about half of people with deep vein thrombosis or DVT experience symptoms. Icyou’s medical editor Dr. Mona Khanna is here to explain the condition and what you need to know to reduce your risk of experiencing it. And Dr. Mona, I often hear about deep vein thrombosis as it relates to travel. I know the holiday seasons rapidly approaching should I be concerned. Khanna: Well, it’s interesting you mentioned travel we’re back because it has been called the economy class syndrome. And basically deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that originates in a deep vein usually from the legs because of circulatory problems, circulatory issues and it has a potential to (a) cause damage and (b) send a clot to your lungs and cause other kinds of damage including death. Rebecca: Wow, what are the signs and symptoms then? Khanna: Well, you have to be very careful because if the blood clot is developing in your leg or even your arm, it’s usually the deep veins in the thigh the upper leg. You look for discoloration of the skin, warmth, swelling, pain, like fatigue. In other words you use to be able to walk a couple of blocks, a couple of miles and all of a sudden you can’t anymore. And it usually piggybacks of off a risk factor that can put your greater risk for developing it. Rebecca: Okay and the risk factors again sitting for long periods of time, I've heard about that. Khanna: Yes, sitting for long periods of time which is why we talk about it being associated with being on a plane or economy class syndrome. Also, other risk factors include if you’ve just had surgery for example heart or chest surgery or even orthopedic surgery. If you’ve been ambulatory—non-ambulatory what we call as when you’ve been lying in bed especially after surgery for a long period of time, your circulation isn’t the get up and go circulation that usually is that puts you at higher risk for developing this kind of a clot in your deep veins. Rebecca: Can you treat it if you developed; it is it too late then? Khanna: No, it’s absolutely not too late to treat it. In fact you want to catch it as earlier as you can. We do all kinds of non-invasive tests to be able to see whether o not that a leg swelling or the discoloration or the fatigue is due to a clot. We can find those clots with pin point position and then the way we treat them is we give clot busting therapy. It’s very, very simple. By the way if you are patient who has cancer, has had in the past you’re high risk too. Rebecca: How can I prevent this from developing? Khanna: Well, the way to prevent it is if you are going to be traveling for a long period of time especially if you are in one of these risk categories, you should make sure to get up in the plane. Nowadays, when you fly across country you're in the plane for four to five hours. Get up, walk around a little bit even if you don’t have to go to the bathroom. What I typically do is I go to the back of the plane where the flight attendants have prepared the meals and all and I stretch you know, I stretch my legs, I evert and invert my foot, I flex and extend it. And those things just get the blood moving a little bit more and help the circulation. So, that’s the first thing you need to do. The second thing you need to do is if you are at higher risk in some of these categories that we talked about, if you’ve recently had surgery, if you are prone to developing clots for whatever reason. Another category is let’s say you're on hormone therapy or oral contraceptive therapy and you smoke. That puts you at a higher risk category too. Know your risks and be aware so that if you do develop a clot you can catch it because you know the signs and symptoms that we talk about earlier. Catch it early, go and to see your doctor, have this very easy non impassive test done and then you could be a