If you’ve heard of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), chances are you associate it with something that happens to people on long haul flights or to those who are relegated to their beds for long periods of time. That’s because DVT, as we’ll define it below, can occur when you’re not doing much moving around. That means that, along with increasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease, all of that sitting you do at work could put you at risk for deep vein thrombosis, too. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what Deep Vein Thrombosis is and what you can do to ensure you’re not putting yourself at risk while you work.
Deep Vein Thrombosis: A Definition
A Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that forms deep inside a vein, usually in the lower leg or thigh. Problems arise when that clot travels to the heart or lungs or veins. At this point the clot is called a pulmonary embolism, and if it remains in place, it will block blood from getting to the lungs. If not addressed in time, a pulmonary embolism can be fatal.
How You’ll Know You’ve Got It
Prolonged warmth, pain, swelling and redness in the lower leg or thigh can be symptomatic of a DVT. If the condition has progressed into a pulmonary embolism, you may feel shortness of breath, pain when you breathe deeply, or blood when you cough. However, some people with Deep Vein Thrombosis are asymptomatic.
What to Do About It
If you notice any of the symptoms of DVT, head to the emergency room immediately to ensure the condition doesn’t progress any further. Here your doctor will get your history and do a physical exam. If they suspect that it may indeed be Deep Vein Thrombosis, they are most likely to give you an ultrasound so they can look at the potential clot in real time. They might also opt to give venography test instead, during which time they’ll measure how high the levels are in your blood of a certain substance that’s released when a blood clot is present.
Who’s At Risk
If you’ve had DVT before, are taking blood thickeners for any reason, take birth control pills or on a hormone replacement therapy, have had deep damage to your veins due to surgery or trauma, are currently being treated for cancer, are pregnant or have recently given birth, are a smoker, overweight, or older, you are at increased risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis. People who have been confined to bed rest, have been traveling for long periods of time without moving, or who sit all day are also at slightly elevated risk.
How to Prevent It
If you’ve had DVT before, then make sure to take all of the medicines your doctor prescribes, and to see them for regular checkups. You may also want to ask your medical professional about wearing compression socks to keep blood flowing.
If you’re going to embark on any lengthy business trips, then it’s a good idea to get up and move around as much as you can. While most experts agree it takes about 4 hours without movement for a blood clot to form, it’s still recommended that you get up every hour or so to walk around the plane or to do a few leg exercises at your seat.
The same mentality should apply to the workplace. Consider buying or making your own standing desk, which will force you to use your leg muscles as you readjust throughout the day. Get up every hour so to stretch, and hold walking meetings to exercise your legs while you exercise your mind.
Whether you’re working a marathon session before a big release or 12-hour days are run-of-the-mill for you, remembering to get up and move around will go a long way towards preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis — and you just might like it, too.
Have more questions about DVT? Ask away in the blog comments!