DVT (Deep Venous Thrombosis) Afflicts American Idol

On Friday, former American Idol contestant Michael Johns suddenly died at age 35, allegedly from a blood clot that formed in his ankle. No official details have been released, but TMZ is reporting that Michael Johns twisted his ankle.  Other celebrities who have made relatively recent headlines for suffering from DVT include Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Nene Leakes, and Tennis Star Serena Williams.  Other well known figures such as

Richard Nixon, Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney and David Bloom have all suffered a potentially fatal deep venous thrombosis (DVT).

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh. The clot can block blood flow and cause swelling and pain. When a clot breaks off and moves through the bloodstream, this is called an embolism. An embolism can get stuck in the brain, lungs, heart, or other area, leading to severe damage.

Blood clots may form when something slows or changes the flow of blood in the veins. Risk factors include:

  • Bedrest
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Fractures in the pelvis or legs
  • Giving birth within the last 3 months
  • Heart Failure
  • Obesity
  • Recent surgery (especially hip, knee, or female pelvic surgery)
  • Too many blood cells being made by the bone marrow

You’re also more likely to develop DVT if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Blood that is more likely to clot (hypercoagulability)
  • Cancer
  • Taking estrogens or birth control pills.
  • Long airplane flights: London’s Heathrow Airport reports one passenger death a month from DVT. One nearby hospital recorded thirty passenger deaths from DVT in the past three years including a 28-year-old man. To reduce the risk of DVT during air travel,  passengers are advised to wear compression stockings on flights, frequent moving aroudnt he cabinand pumping the calf muscles, leg elevation and avoidance of sedentary positions for long periods of time without moving.

If you might have a DVT, it is important to see a doctor. Signs of a DVT may be sudden leg pain and swelling. It can be diagnosed by ultrasound imaging. See our other blogs about ultrasound imaging and DVT detection.

What is a Superficial Thrombophlebitis?

A thrombophlebitis is swelling and inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot. There are two main types of thrombophlebitits: deep venous thrombosis (affects deeper, larger veins) and superficial thrombophlebitis (affects veins near the skin surface).  This is often referred to as an STP.

The following symptoms are often associated with thrombophlebitis:

  • Inflammation (swelling) in the part of the body affected
  • Pain in the part of the body affected
  • skin redness (not always present)
  • Warmth and tenderness over the vein

The following increase your chances for thrombophlebitis:

  • Being hospitalized for a major surgery or with a major illness
  • Disorders that make you more likely to develop blood clots
  • Sitting for a long period of time (such as on a long airplane trip)
  • Varicose veins

An STP is common complication of varicose veins. But, it can also indicate an underlying problem with blood clotting.  In some cases, there may also be a concurrent blood clot in other veins, such as the deep veins (DVT) which can be serious. For this reason, a duplex ultrasound examination is used to look at the deep veins and other veins not visible to the naked eye for the presence of blood clots.

If it is localized to a small surface vein, it can usually be treated with  aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation, compression stockings, and cold/warm packs to also reduce inflammation and discomfort. The discomfort is usually improved within 6 weeks but it can take a few months to resolve.

If the superficial thrombophlebitis is extensive or if it appears to be ‘migrating’ up the leg, a blood thinner may be necessary.  You should see your doctor if you develop an STP.

stp

A thrombophlebitis is swelling and inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot. This patient has a superficial thrombophlebitis, which is a blood clot in the superficial, surface veins. You can see redness in the inner thigh of this patient, which is caused by the inflammation and swelling from the blood clot. It can be very painful. You should see your doctor for superficial thrombophlebitis.

 

Have Tea with the Vein MD August 11th

La Jolla Vein Care is announcing their new ‘Tea with the MD’ series of educational seminars for patients to learn more about varicose veins, what causes them, what’s new in treatment, etc.  Dr. Bunke will be kicking off the first seminar Monday, August 11th.  This is an opportunity to ask the doctor all of your vein related questions in a small group.  Those who are interested are asked to call 858-550-0330 to RSVP as space is limited to keep the discussions quaint.  Light snacks/lunch will be served and parking will be validated. Tea-With-MD-Ad-print