March is national Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month, a public health initiative aimed at raising awareness of this commonly occurring medical condition and its potentially fatal complication; pulmonary embolism. According to the American Heart Association up to 2 million Americans are affected annually by DVT, more commonly known as blood clots. Yet most Americans (74%) have little or no awareness of DVT according to a national survey sponsored by the American Public Health Association. As part of YBN's commitment to your health, we want to be sure you're aware of the risks, and ways you can improve your health.
Symptoms of DVT
Some people who have DVT do not have any symptoms. Most have some swelling in one or both legs. Often, there is pain or tenderness in one leg (may happen only when you stand or walk). Your skin may feel warm or look red or discolored. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
Help prevent DVT
Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing a DVT or other blood clot. Being educated about your own health is your best defense. As always, check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns especially before scheduling a massage or other bodywork.
- Quit smoking.
- Lower your blood pressure with dietary changes, like reducing your intake of sodium and sugar.
- Maintain a reasonable weight.
- Get frequent exercise, like walking or swimming.
- If you know that you'll be inactive for a long period of time, such as on a long car ride or flight, wear light, loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Avoid anything that could restrict your circulation. Move your legs around and stretch. Get up every hour or so and walk around, if you can. If you must stay seated, do lower leg exercises.
- With your feet flat on the ground, alternate lifting your heels and toes. This stretches your calves and keeps up your blood flow.
- Lift each leg in turn and gently rotate your foot at the ankle in both directions.
- Keeping your toes on the floor, gently raise and lower your heel several times.
DVT is a serious health concern, especially since it can strike without warning. Being prepared is the best defense. We want you to stay healthy and happy for a very long time!