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What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot which forms most often in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm. This is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. Thrombosis remains to be one of the major causes of death in the UK, but people aren’t yet aware of the cause.

March is DVT Awareness Month organised by the charity Thrombosis UK and they are calling for greater awareness and understanding of thrombosis. We thought we’d share the risks, signs and symptoms of DVT.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The symptoms of DVT include:

  • Swelling (usually in one leg)
  • Leg pain or tenderness
  • Red/blue-tinged skin
  • Skin warm around the area

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

If DVT isn’t spotted early enough, it can develop into a pulmonary embolism. Around 1 in 10 people will get this. A Pulmonary Embolism happens when a blood clot breaks loose into the bloodstream, travels to the lungs and causes the blood vessels in the lungs to become blocked.

Signs:

  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain

What are the risk factors?

There are some risk factors associated with thrombosis and it’s important to know what they are so that you can protect yourself from it.

These risk factors include:

Hospitalisation

Most blood clots occur after spending a period of time in the hospital, due to surgery or treatment. You’re often confined to a hospital bed and immobile which can increase the risk of developing a DVT. This can be prevented by:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Wearing compression devices to encourage the blood flow
  • Taking regular walks

Lifestyle

Habits we’ve acquired in our daily lives can put us at risk of developing a DVT, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eat well
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Travel

Frequently travelling on long-haul flights and long-distance train journeys can increase your chances of getting a DVT. Make sure you do these simple steps:

  • Avoid taking sleeping pills because you won’t be able to get up and move around
  • Wiggle your legs and flex your ankles regularly to encourage blood flow, especially on flights.
  • Drink plenty of water

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Included within our Lifestyle, Lifestyle Plus and Elite policies is the 24-Hour GP Advice Line. Talk to a doctor in the comfort of your own home while getting advice from a qualified GP. For all this and more, see how little private health insurance could cost you!

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