The rate at which a deep vein thrombosis kills an American will floor you.
Every year in the United States, a significant number of people die from VTE: venous thrombus embolism.
“DVT kills more people than accidents, cancer and AIDS combined,” says Steve Elias, MD, FACS, director of Center for Vein Disease and The Wound Healing Center at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, NJ.
“It is common all over the world — but perhaps not recognized as often in developing countries.”
How often does an American die from DVT?
Every five minutes, reports the Vascular Disease Foundation. This translates to 100,000 to 180,000 Americans every year succumbing to deep vein thrombosis.
Though most VTE isn’t fatal, there’s no way to tell, in any given patient with a DVT, whether or not the clot will break off and travel to the lungs, how big the breakage will be and/or exactly where the broken fragment will lodge.
Keep in mind that many lives are saved because the symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis are difficult to ignore, prompting people to seek medical attention, leading to diagnosis and treatment.
Some estimates are higher, such as 300,000 Americans a year (Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Oct. 30, 2009).
The Vascular Disease Foundation says that just about anyone can develop a deep vein thrombosis under the right circumstances, and the more risk factors present, the more likely you’ll develop the condition.
The VDF names the following risk factors: smoking, obesity, sitting for more than six hours when traveling, prolonged bed rest, family history, cancer and cancer treatment, increasing age, recent major surgery (particularly orthopedic), and hospitalization for illness.
DVT symptoms may consist of pain, tenderness or aching in one or both legs; change in skin color (usually red or purple); skin hot to the touch; and swelling. Be especially suspicious if these symptoms occur in one leg.