A lesser known complication of a blood clot is a chronic condition known as post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) and up to 50% of people with DVT will develop PTS. PTS occurs when a a blood clots damages the valves in your veins and inhibits the natural flow of blood to the lungs. As Lookstein explained, the leg is chronically swollen for years and is painful, making it difficult to walk or exercise.
“This can really diminish an otherwise healthy patient’s quality of life and it can be quite devastating.”
This makes early diagnosis of DVT critical and as Lookstein shared, “diagnosis has never been easier.” If you have concerns of DVT, it’s best to contact your doctor immediately. A diagnosis can be made in the doctor’s office with a simple blood test or a ultrasound.
Medication consisting of blood thinners is the likely course of treatment. Lookstein stated, “Blood thinners have been shown to reduce, if not eliminate, risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. However, they don’t make the blood clot in the leg go away, and so patients are still at risk for developing this chronic post-thrombotic syndrome, limiting the functionality of the leg affected by the blood clot.”
Another suggested option is a new minimally invasive procedure that extracts the blood clot from the leg. Now, this can be done as outpatient or ambulatory surgery instead of a three or four day hospital stay. “This restores normal circulation to the patient, gets them back on their feet again and almost immediately eliminates their symptoms.”
“Stay as active as you possibly can,” is what Lookstein advises all of his patients. If you’re on a long flight, get up every few hours and walk the aisles. If traveling by car, pull over, stretch your legs or walk around five to 10 minutes. Get the blood circulating!
In addition to moving more, avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. It’s best to stay well hydrated with lots of water. Proper hydration has been proven to reduce the risk of blood clots associated with long distance travel. On the bright side, all the extra water will certainly help you get you out your seat more for bathroom breaks!
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