DR Patrick Ezeogu, an Abuja based general physician, advised Nigerians to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Ezeogu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that a DVT is a blood clot that forms in the major veins of the body, usually the legs.
He said it could be life threatening, especially when the blockage occurred in the lungs, heart or brain.
The expert explained that it could affect people of any age but the risk of developing a DVT increases after the age of 40 years.
He said that life threatening complications could arise from DVT when blood clots dislodged, travelled in the bloodstream and then lodged in other veins or arteries causing a blockage (this blockage is called an embolism).
“This can be life threatening, especially when the embolism occurs in the lungs, heart or brain; pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung) is the most common of these serious DVT complications.
“Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from the tissues of the body back to the heart.
“Veins that lie just beneath the skin surface are referred to as superficial veins while veins found deep inside the muscles are referred to as deep veins,” he said.
Ezeogu explained that when blood clot occurred in a vein it is referred to as a venous thrombosis.
“When the blood clot is associated with inflammation of the vein, it is referred to as thrombophlebitis.
“The clot will either partially or completely block the flow of blood through the affected vein,” he said.
The expert said obesity, smoking, having a family member who had DVT as some of the risk factors that could predispose a person to DVT.
He also said that DVT would likely occur when the blood flow through the deep veins was slowed.
“Factors that can slow blood flow include injury to a vein. For example, as a result of a broken bone or severe muscle injury, orthopaedic and cancer surgery, heart disease,’’ he said.
Ezeogu noted that DVT did not always cause symptoms but if symptoms occurred, the first was usually a cramp-like aching pain in the affected muscles.
“If a pulmonary embolism occurs as a result of a DVT, it may produce barely noticeable symptoms such as chest discomfort and mild breathlessness.
“It can also produce more noticeable symptoms such as sharp chest pain, a rapid heart rate, breathlessness and coughing-up blood,” said the physician.
He therefore recommended prompt medical attention if a DVT was suspected even if symptoms were mild.
“Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of a DVT are necessary to reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening complications, such as pulmonary embolism.
“Because a DVT can occur without any obvious symptoms and diagnosis can sometimes be difficult,” he said.
Ezeogu also suggested general measures to help lower the risk of developing DVT as not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, and undertaking regular exercise.
Source: The Nigerian Tribune Newspaper