What Your Hospice Staff Wishes You Knew About Deep Vein Thrombosis
March is Deep-Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of this condition that most commonly affects adults over the age of 60. There are many things that the hospice staff at Pathways Home Health and Hospice wants you to know about DVT, which is when blood clots form in a deep vein, like an arm or leg. Small pieces can break off and make their way to major organs where they can result in pulmonary embolism, says The Caregiver Space. So if you or a loved one suffers from deep vein thrombosis in hospice in San Francisco and elsewhere, keep reading for more info.
DVT: A Look at the Risk Factors and Symptoms
There are some ways one can lower the risk of developing DVT. Age is a big factor, as it affects adults over 60 but can happen to anyone at any age. You can also make some lifestyle changes, and reduced physical mobility is another factor in developing the condition. Conditions such as congestive heart failure, acute infection, atherosclerotic vascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can all increase the risk of DVT, according to Sage Journals.
Deep vein thrombosis may cause leg pain or swelling, but sometimes people have no symptoms at all. Healthline points out these common symptoms:
- Swollen feet, legs, or ankles, usually on one side
- Calf cramps
- Severe pain in the ankle or foot
- Part of the skin that feels warmer than the surrounding skin
- Part of the skin that gets paler, or turns blue or red
Immobility is probably the most commonly known risk factor for DVT, such as when people are bed bound for many days or weeks at a time, either in hospice or after an accident or surgery. In addition to prolonged bed rest, there are other common causes of DVT in the elderly, such as people who:
- Have a family history of DVT
- Are obese or overweight
- Have a catheter in place
- Have suffered a deep vein injury
- Have had surgery recently
- Are receiving hormone therapy
- Recently broke a hip, pelvis, or lower extremity
- Have cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or heart failure
- Are immobile for long periods of time
The staff at Pathways wants you to know and understand these risk factors so you can help your senior loved one avoid a deep vein thrombosis diagnosis. Just be aware that some people don’t have any symptoms, or they have symptoms that come on suddenly or slowly. In fact, half of the people with DVT have no recognizable symptoms, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation.
They also want you to know the warning signs of a pulmonary embolism, so be on the lookout for:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when taking a deep breath or when coughing
- Rapid breathing and pulse
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Coughing up blood
It’s important to seek emergency medical attention for yourself or a loved one if you experience any of the above.
Prevention of DVT
While sometimes DVT just happens, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to prevent this from happening. You should:
- Visit your doctor for regular checkups
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active
- Quit smoking
- Avoid sitting or lying down for long periods of time
- Stay hydrated
Being active is probably the best thing you can do. When you’re in hospice, we understand this can be challenging. But DVT is dubbed the “sitting disease” for a reason. Sedentary lifestyles are unhealthy no matter how you slice it and no matter how old or young you are. That said, it’s even more of a threat to the elderly, as they’re not as active as their younger counterparts and will lose strength and mobility as they age.
It’s even more difficult for seniors who are in hospice when they just don’t feel well but know they have to get up and move regularly. This lack of activity restricts blood flow throughout the body, thereby increasing the risk of DVT.
Another big risk factor is being overweight, which isn’t tough to do for seniors because of their reduced mobility and activity levels. It can be easy to sit or lie down frequently throughout the day without working off the calories. Extra pounds place pressure on the legs and pelvic veins, which is another boost to the risk for DVT. And lastly, the prevalence of falls in seniors is another added risk for deep vein thrombosis. That’s because falls are a top injury cause in seniors, which often leads to surgery and then prolonged bed rest. Spending too much time off your feet means your calf muscles cannot properly circulate blood, which again adds to your risk for DVT.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Got more questions about DVT? Our staff is eager to answer any questions you may have about deep vein thrombosis and how we care for this condition in your loved one. Contact us today at 888-978-1306.