Vascular Disease & COVID-19
The more we learn about COVID-19, the better we can connect the virus to other diseases and conditions. These connections allow us to further protect our patients from those very diseases and conditions before, during and after they experience the virus. From our perspective, one of the biggest concerns is a COVID-stricken individual’s heightened risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) — up to 30% when hospitalized. Why? Because COVID-19 can lead to blood clots in the veins that can reach the lungs, causing the pulmonary embolism that we spoke about in a previous post. As a result, all hospitalized coronavirus patients should receive a prophylactic blood thinner during their stay, and in some cases, for seven to 10 days after hospital discharge.
For now, it’s up to you to mitigate the risk of DVT by becoming familiar with prevention methods as well as reminding yourself of DVT symptoms and risks far beyond the pandemic.
Mitigating DVT Risks
As with anything, the more risk factors you have for DVT, the greater your chances are of contracting it, especially when you throw COVID into the mix. But the more you know, the better care of yourself you can take.
There are certain factors that one has no control over, such as a family history of blood-clotting disorders, injury or surgery, prolonged bed rest during a hospital stay, cancer treatment, age and bowel diseases. Others, you have a say in:
- This can negatively impact blood clotting and circulation, and therefore, should stop immediately.
- Overweightness or obesity
- This increases vein pressure, particularly in the pelvis and legs. We highly recommend getting that under control as soon as possible.
- Sitting or being inactive can hinder blood flow, so be sure to develop an exercise routine. If you travel frequently, don’t forget to walk around every hour or two, or raise and lower your heels at the very least.
- Stay hydrated by drinking fluids every day, throughout the day.
- Take all medications prescribed by a medical professional, exactly how he or she instructed you to take them.
Pregnancy, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy are prepartum to postpartum risks separately associated with DVT. Therefore, it is crucial for of-age females to talk with their OBGYN about this for advice and potential specialist referrals.
Signs and Symptoms of DVT
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, be sure to watch out for the signs and symptoms of DVT, keeping in mind that this can occur without any noticeable symptoms like:
- Leg swelling and/or pain, often starting out as cramping or soreness in the calf
- Shortness of breath, which can hit suddenly
- Rapid heartbeat, sometimes accompanied by chest pain or discomfort during deep breaths or coughs
Anyone experiencing any of these should see a health care provider immediately.
Earlier this month, the CDC updated their guidelines on the coronavirus, as it relates to specific medical conditions, several of which can be linked to DVT. For example, obesity and severe obesity, pregnancy, cancer, smoking and being overweight. We have included these guidelines here for your reference and further knowledge:
If you have or are at risk of DVT, particularly following COVID-19, please turn to our team: Vascular & Vein Center at Gulfcoast Surgeons. We’ll find a course of action that’s just right for you and closely monitor any symptoms you may experience. For more information, call (239) 939-1767, and refer to one of our newest clips here.