dvt awareness

Out of 900,000 annual U.S. cases of DVT, how many patients are not on Coumadin, a potent prescription blood thinner?

To find out how many people who develop a deep vein thrombosis were not on blood thinners such as Coumadin at the time, I consulted with Kevin Casey, MD, FACS, a vascular surgeon with West Coast Vascular.

“It is difficult to perform generalized population studies on DVTs because one must consider other risk factors,” says Dr. Casey.

“The overall incidence of recurrent, fatal and nonfatal venous thromboembolism (VTE) in the United States is greater than 900,000 cases annually.

The total new cases in the U.S. amounts to greater than 275,000.

Despite those big numbers, risk factors of blood thinners must be considered.

“Patients who are critically ill, diagnosed with a malignancy, with hypercoagulable disorders, spinal cord injury, recent trauma are all at an increased risk for developing a VTE,” explains Dr. Casey.

The term VTE (venous thromboembolism) encompasses both DVT and PE, in that a DVT has the potential to dislodge and migrate to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism.

“Of course, the majority of those patients are not on chemical prophylaxis,” continues Dr. Casey. In other words, they’re not on a blood thinning drug to lower the chances of developing the condition.

“Those patients who develop a VTE while on chemical prophylaxis are candidates for an inferior vena cava filter [IVC filter} to prevent new or more pulmonary emboli.”

The implanted filter traps blood clots before they can get into the pulmonary arteries.

Symptoms of a DVT

  • One leg is swollen, possibly pinkish, reddish or red-purple.
  • The affected area is very warm to the touch.
  • The leg hurts, even at rest.

Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism

  • Sudden inability to breathe or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Very rapid pulse
Dr. Casey specializes in vascular and vein therapy, and has been the lead researcher on publications examining abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease and lower extremity critical limb ischemia.