I am here to talk to you about deep vein thrombosis and about its causes and effects it can have on a person. You all have probably heard about this disease, but most likely have never encountered it. It is generally common to older people around 40 years plus and to people who have not had proper exercise. It is disease of the circulatory system causing a blood clot to form in one of the deep veins in the body, especially in the calf or thigh.
This is where blood moves most slowly, and when a deep vein thrombosis occurs the blood goes so slow that it forms a solid wedge-like clot in the vein.
Most of the time after the clot has happened pains can be felt where the clot has formed. Also the skin temperature can be raised around the clot and sudden swelling can be seen. Occasionally, some of the surface veins may be more visible than usual. If the clot has formed in the leg then flexing the foot may also cause pain.
DVT can be quite easily detected. Scientists have found a way of using ultrasound technology to detect even the tiniest of clots. Another way is to give blood tests which would show the state of a by product of clotting material called D-dimer.
If the doctor suspects a DVT, they usually would arrange an ultrasound test. You may think DVT’s are life-threatening and easily cause deaths, but they are not. However, the complications can be fatal.
The most common and most fatal complication is pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism has a one in three chance of happening. This causes a piece of clot to break away and become lodged inside the lungs causing severe breathing difficulties. This is generally untreated and one in ten people with this die. Rarities include a piece being lodged in other parts of the body, including the brain.
This could lead to a stroke. A less serious complication that affects most people after DVT is post-thrombotic syndrome which causes ulceration, swelling and pain at the skin around the vein valves where the DVT has occurred. Around seventy percent of DVT victims need to be cared for in a hospital during the initial stages as the doctors aim to dissolve the clot and stop further clots from forming. The most common type of treatment is to thin the blood, using the drug heparin, to make the blood flow easily. Patients are then given warfarin for several months to stop a haemorrhage from forming.
Painkillers are also given as is heat to the area. There are many reasons why DVT’s occur. The medical reasons that make them more likely to occur include a family history of the disease, cancer, obesity, and varicose veins. Paralysis or immobility also causes DVT. After a broken leg or major surgery DVT’s are common because patients are unable to move discouraging blood flow. Nowadays patients are told to do exercise right from the beginning. Women who are taking the pill are four times more likely to have a DVT than those who are not as are women on hormone replacement therapy.
Pregnant women or those who have just given birth are also more likely to experience then. However, the most common cause of a DVT to occur has only been discovered recently. A French study has shown that people who travel for long hours on a car, train or plane, are four times more likely to have a DVT than anyone else. There is an increased risk to air travellers as the inactivity and dehydration, make the blood sticky. Special compression stockings and foot cushions have been invented to reduce the risks of DVT in legs.
Taking drug-thinning tablets, i. e. aspirin, before a long flight and waling around in the cabin can make it easy for the blood to climb up the veins, therefore reducing the risk of a DVT. Keeping mobile is vital especially after an operation. DVT has also been part of the media coverage over the past few years. Many newspapers and television news stations have reported on scientists’ findings and how DVT is a cause for concern. The government pledged over one million pounds into research of DVT and its link with air travel.
After this many families of victims called on the many MP’s to give better warning about DVT, this lead to TV campaigns and more awareness on planes. Airlines were told to make their planes a lot less cramped as they were also a major factor resulting in a DVT. However, airlines were later being sued for corporate manslaughter after many passengers continued to die due to Deep Vein Thrombosis. Ana article in the Daily Mail on the 22nd of October showed that fifteen families had asked police chiefs nationwide to investigate the deaths and then charge the airline bosses.
Earlier in August the RAC foundation had warned drivers are at a risk as well as passengers on long drives. They warned that even younger drivers were at risk from a blood clot as well as older drivers. The foundation proved that it is not only airplanes that cause DVT, but that it is confined spaces and inactivity that causes them as well. The AA also backed this up by giving evidence of a taxi driver who died following long periods of time in his taxi. An inquest had found that he had suffered a DVT and it had moved up into his lungs before killing him.
His widow believed the job was most definitely to blame. Many airlines have been forced to give compensation to families of victims and victims themselves. On the 18th of October this year a women won i? 13000 from Virgin Atlantic because she suffered a DVT and many other injuries after she was crushed by a 23 stone American women on a flight. She complained to the air crew on board but there were no seats, therefore she had to suffer. Another court case this autumn will secure payments from airlines for half a million pounds for people who have died from DVT.