Friday, 13 March 2009

Silent Killer

March is Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) awareness month and as someone who's been affected by this twice myself I thought I should take some time to share my story.

Here's my story:
When I was 21 weeks pregnant with my first child I started to develop pain and swelling in my left leg, I was only 27 years old at the time young, healthy and a non smoker and had no idea what a DVT even was. It took me over a week to seek out proper medical treatment I waited until I had pretty serious pain in my leg and it swelled noticeably larger then my right leg before rushing to the emergency where it was easily diagnosed via an ultrasound. I had even been to the OB that week and complained of the pain in my leg but the swelling wasn't there yet and my doctor didn't recognized the problem. I was very lucky I had 3 large clots in my upper leg, they had not broken off and traveled anywhere. I underwent a year and 1/2 of treatment and the clot eventually went away.

5 years later I had a second clot after I delivered my third child Ashley who was in the NICU at the time very sick and even though I had survived a previous DVT years earlier I was very distracted by the fact that my newborn was in a life and death situation. I remember thinking perhaps this is another clot but had trouble leaving her bedside, very quickly the pain grew and so did the clot which pretty much was the entire length of my leg by the time I had it diagnosed. I believe Ashley was nine or ten days old when I started blood thinners again. Ashley also suffered two DVT's one in her leg and another in her heart as a newborn hers were brought on by very necessary medical intervention to save her life in the ICU. The clot in heart was in a very scary position on a valve leading to her lungs and a another piece of that clot broke off and cause a minor stroke she wasn't even two weeks old at the time.

It's obvious that both Ashley and I have a predisposition to clotting but there was nothing are hematologist could detect in their post clot blood work-up. The doctors still have a lot to learn about why clots happen. However if everyone is aware of the symptoms you can seek treatment earlier with hopefully good outcomes and less deaths. In this pregnancy I'm taking daily blood thinners since the day I took the pregnancy test and I'll continue on them until the baby is 3 months old. I'm also in good hands being followed closely by a high risk OB and hematologist.

Important Prevention:
- Don't smoke
and everyone should take precautions when traveling long distances especially overseas flights.

When flying or driving long distance you should:
Pump your feet like your pressing up and down on the gas pedal.
Get up and walk around at least once an hour.
Keep hydrated, drink plenty of fluids gatoraid is highly recommend.

Take a minute to review this:
Are you a Risk of a DVT take a few minutes to complete this risk assessment?

More information is available at

Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common but serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs. A complication of DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), can occur when a blood clot breaks loose and moves into the lungs, where it blocks circulation to these vital organs, creating a life-threatening condition.

Up to two million Americans suffer from DVT each year, approximately 300,000 deaths annually result from PE, the majority of which result from DVT - more than breast cancer and AIDS combined. DVT-related PE is the most common cause of preventable hospital death.

Everyone should be aware of the Symptoms

Many blood clots that occur in DVT are small and don't cause any symptoms. Your body will usually be able to gradually break them down with no long-term effects.

Larger clots may block the blood flow in the vein and cause symptoms such as:

swelling of the affected leg - this is usually different from the mild swelling of both ankles that many people experience during long-haul flights for example
pain in the affected leg - the pain may only be noticeable, or get worse when standing or walking
reddening of the affected leg
Although not necessarily a result of DVT, if you have these symptoms you should visit your GP.

If your still reading good job getting through all this and please take care of your health it's the most valuable thing you have.

1 comment:

CC said...

Thank you for this information! You are right that it isn't something I think about. Luckily, I only had a score of 1.