This March we recognize Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Awareness Month, bringing knowledge and understanding to the dangers of blood clots. DVT is a condition in which a blood clot is formed in a vein that is deep within the body. These blood clots can cause swelling, pain and, most importantly, can travel through the veins causing a blockage. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage that is formed when a blood clot travels to the lungs.

It is estimated that DVT and PE affect between 300,000 to 600,000 Americans each year and many go undiagnosed. In some cases, DVT and PE can lead to severe disability and even death if left untreated.

The signs of DVT and PE differ slightly. Symptoms of DVT include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness of the skin

Symptoms of PE include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • A faster heart rate than normal
  • Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blacking out

It is also important to know the risk factors for DVT and PE, including:

  • Extended bed rest
  • Long plane or car trip
  • Recent major surgery
  • Traumatic injury
  • History of blood clots
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone therapy

To learn your risk, you can take a free DVT and PE risk assessment or you can stop by Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s cafeteria on Friday, March 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a DVT or PE, we invite you to attend the DVT and PE Support Group at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. Call 240-826-6177 for more information on the groups.

Former patents, such as 48-year-old mother of two, Annie Foster Ahmed, expressed how participating in the support groups and hearing other people’s stories have helped.

Foster Ahmed was taken by ambulance to Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center last year after collapsing in her home. Physicians found that she had developed a large blood clot in her leg, which led to a massive PE.