Common blood clot myths
Blood clots only affect older people
The incidence of blood clots may be higher among older people, but anyone can experience a blood clot. Young people who are otherwise fit and healthy have a low risk of clots. Older people have a higher risk, but nobody is immune to potentially dangerous clots. Everyone should be aware of the signs and symptoms of an embolism or DVT (deep vein thrombosis) so that they can act as quickly as possible.
Blood clots only affect unhealthy people
There is an assumption that you are only at risk of blood clots if you are old and you have poor health. In reality, it is possible for healthy individuals of all ages to develop a clot. If you have a healthy lifestyle, your risks are much lower but it is wise to be wary of blood clots and to try to be proactive in preventing them.
Blood clots are not usually serious
This is one of the most dangerous myths because there is a risk of clots developing and breaking up and traveling to different parts of the body. In the case of DVT, the clot forms in a vein in the leg. If diagnosed and treated early, the prognosis is very positive, but it is critical to seek urgent advice. If a clot is left untreated, there is a chance that it could fracture and move up the body to the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism and it can be fatal. If you suspect that you may have DVT, see a doctor immediately. Treatment options at this stage include taking blood thinners. Many people do not display obvious signs of DVT but the most common symptoms to look out for include swelling and redness in one leg. Seek emergency assistance if you experience sudden shortness of breath.
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Travel is the main cause of DVT
Many of us are familiar with guidelines and advice related to traveling and reducing the risk of DVT. Frequent travelers and those boarding long-haul flights may be advised to take blood-thinning medication before flying and undertake exercises and frequent walks during the journey to increase blood flow. While it is beneficial to follow these steps, it is important to note that traveling is only one risk factor for blood clots. Data suggests that most people develop blood clots in the hospital.
DVT is rare
Almost a million people in the US are affected by deep vein thrombosis every year, according to figures from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Although DVT is not common, especially in younger people, it is perhaps more prevalent than many people think.
The contraceptive pill causes blood clots
One of the main concerns about taking the contraceptive pill is an increased risk of blood clots. It is true that using birth control can elevate the risk of blood clots, but the vast majority of women will not experience any complications while taking the pill. The risk rises due to increased levels of estrogen. Before starting to use birth control, patients should have a consultation with their doctor to discuss the risks and assess suitability. If you have a history of blood clots, for example, or you develop a DVT while taking the pill or using another form of hormonal contraception, alternative contraceptive methods will be recommended.
Blood clots affect women more commonly than men
It is understandable to assume that blood clots are more common in women than men, as using birth control and being pregnant can increase the risk of clots. However, statistics indicate that men are affected more frequently than women.
Being active can stop me from getting a blood clot
Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of harmful blood clots, but being active will not prevent every case. Anyone can get a blood clot, regardless of their age, health status and lifestyle choices. The risks are higher among those who have a sedentary lifestyle but exercise does not guarantee that you won’t experience a blood clot.
Blood clots don’t require urgent attention
Deep vein thrombosis can be treated and managed effectively, especially when identified early, but it’s crucial to understand the potential dangers of blood clots. Of the 900,000 cases reported in the US each year, the CDC estimates that around 100,00 people die from blood clots. If you notice symptoms, including inflammation and tenderness in the leg, or you develop breathing difficulties or loss of consciousness, it is vital to get urgent help. Blood clots should be treated as a medical emergency. They are not usually severe but they can be fatal.
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