A guide to hospital-acquired deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

Many if you will have heard about the
risk of deep vein thrombosis after long haul flights because of scare stories in the media Blood clots after flights are actually more
rare than you might think But what you may not realize is that
blood clots after hospital admission are over ten times more common than after long-haul flights This information video is about the risk
of blood clots after hospital admission, how to reduce
the risks and how to recognize when a clot is
forming Even before we knew about blood clots caused by plane travel and hospital admission we knew that some things increase the risk for blood clots In 1940, the medical journal “The Lancet” reported that fatal blood clots in the
lung called pulmonary emboli occurred in people who sat still or slept for prolonged periods of time in deck chairs When people stopped sitting in
deck chairs then the problem was reduced So what is deep vein thrombosis and what
causes it A deep vein thrombosis or “DVT” is a blood clot forming in the deep
veins of the body, usually the leg If a piece of clot breaks off, it can
travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, or “PE” DVT and PE can be caused by reduced
blood flow as a result in immobility and lack of
movement in the legs also damage or compression of the vein
wall for example during surgery Increased stickiness of the blood can be a side-effect of oestrogen containing contraceptives and the HRT pill The blood also clots more easily in pregnancy as part of the body’s natural preparation for delivery The blood can also clot more easily with
some types of cancer and cancer treatments People with a previous history of DVT or PE are at especially high risk of having further clots when immobile or unwell Sometimes more than one person in the family can get blood clots because of genetic risk factors. When genetic or acquired changes in the blood occur which increase the risk of blood clots
we call this “Thrombophilia” Other things which increase the risk of
DVT and PE include dehydration, medical conditions
like heart failure infections and inflammation. As we get older the risk of blood clots steadily increases. Being overweight is
also a risk for example, if your body mass index or
BMI is over 30 What can be done to reduce the risk of DVT and PE It is important to remain as mobile as
possible This helps with the movement of blood
through the veins When resting, keep your legs elevated rather than bent. Keep well hydrated The hospital can also do things to
reduce your risk All patients admitted to hospital should
be assessed for their risks of getting DVT and PE This helps to decide on what extra treatments might be required For example, after surgery you might be fitted with graduated elastic compression socks They’re tighter at the ankle than the
calf to encourage blood flow through the veins They can either be above well below the knee Not everyone is suitable for compression
socks For example, it depends on the shape of
your leg and you must have intact skin and good arterial
circulation to be able to wear them. It is important
that they are fitted correctly with no creases if you are sent home
with compression socks you can take them off at night and wash
them regularly The most effective way to reduce DVT and PE during hospital admission is by using
special medications that thin the blood The most commonly used medicines are those from a naturally occurring blood
thinner called Heparin or drugs synthesized to work like Heparin. These are given by injection under the skin and reduce the risk of
DVT and PE by between 50 and 70 percent For some patients, blood thinning tablets may also be used How do you know if you’re developing DVT
or PE These can be indicated by: developing
pain and tenderness below the knee, aching in the calf or thigh, leg swelling, or changes in skin color Symptoms of PE include sudden shortness of breath even at rest, stabbing chest pain which is made worse even on shallow breathing If you are at home and you think that you’ve had a DVT or PE, you can ring your emergency GP or go straight to the accident and emergency department at your local hospital If you are very unwell then you should call 999 for an ambulance We hope that you have found this information useful If you have any questions you can speak
to your GP or if in hospital, ask to speak to one of your medical team A useful website is “Lifeblood” the thrombosis charity

4 thoughts on “A guide to hospital-acquired deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

  1. Why has this really good video been given one dislike? I think who has done that intentionally should explain why so additional steps can be taken to highlight any further information relating to the content, if necessary.

  2. i lost my husband to deep vein thrombosis leading to pulmonary embolism. he had a sprain in his leg which led to blood clots. He was 37. be aware and be safe.

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