Q&A with Anthony Comerota, MD, vascular surgeon at Inova Alexandria Hospital
As care continues to improve for cardiovascular diseases, we’re observing reduced rates of heart attack and stroke. However, there is increasing incidence of venous thromboembolic events, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and death due to PE.
DVT is a condition in which a blood clot develops in a patient’s veins. Troublesome DVT usually occurs in the lower extremities or pelvic area and causes symptoms such as swelling, pain, discomfort when walking, and discoloration of the involved leg. If the blood clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolus, which, if large enough, can be life-threatening.
Death from PE resulting from DVT is preventable. Patients who are at high risk for DVT include those with family histories of DVT or PE, those who have experienced blood clots in the past, and patients with some forms of cancer. Other risk factors include recent major surgery, traumatic injury, pregnancy, taking birth control pills and prolonged immobility.
To help reduce the risk of DVT, here are some practical steps: lose weight if you are overweight, quit smoking, exercise regularly and avoid long periods of standing still.