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Don't Fall for These Blood Clot Myths

Don't Fall for These Blood Clot Myths

Each year, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) combined affect between 300,000 to 600,000 people in the U.S., making it the third most common cardiovascular disease behind heart attacks and strokes. DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually found in the leg or thigh but can also occur in the arm. PE is a potentially life-threatening situation and can happen when a DVT clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.

You may be unsure what to look out for when it comes to blood clots, or you may have heard mixed messages. Here are the top myths about blood clots:

Myth: DVT symptoms are obvious.

Fact: Half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all. Those who do experience things like leg swelling or pain, skin discoloration, and shortness of breath often attribute it to something else and don’t realize that they are related.

Myth: Blood clots happen most often while traveling.

Fact: Traveling often means long periods sitting in a car or plane, which can affect blood flow and lead to clots. But, it’s more common to get a blood clot after a surgery or when you’ve been immobilized because of a hospital stay.

Myth: Women are more at risk of DVT.

Fact: Men actually have overall higher incidence rates of DVT and PE, but women encounter more situations that put them at a higher risk, even if they’re temporary. This includes during pregnancy and childbirth, when on oral contraceptives, and during menopause if using hormone therapy. Estrogen causes the body to produce more clotting factor proteins, which puts women at a greater risk for blood clots.

Myth: I’m younger, active and in good health, so a DVT wouldn’t happen to me.

Fact: It can happen to anyone! If you are an athlete, you are actually at an increased risk if you’ve recently had a physical injury or are dehydrated, which causes the blood to thicken. On the flip side, if your lifestyle has some unhealthy elements like being inactive or smoking, your risk for DVT goes up. Certain surgeries, particularly of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee -- which could happen at any age -- increase your risk, as do inherited blood clotting disorders.

Myth: Cosmetic vein issues don’t increase the risk for DVT.

Fact: There’s no arguing that bulging varicose veins or sprawling spider veins can be an eyesore, but under the surface there could be an issue with your vein health. A Doppler ultrasound can check to make sure the blood is still flowing properly and that there’s no indication of a blood clot.

Seeking medical attention early may help reduce the chances of DVT or PE becoming more serious. If you have one or more of these symptoms, contact a healthcare provider right away. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of blood clots, visit