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Preventing Deep-Vein Thrombosis

The third annual Deep-Vein Thrombosis Awareness month kicked off on March 7, 2006. This year New York City, Washington, D.C. and Miami, Florida hosted events to bring together people affected by DVT-Pulmonary Embolism. VOA's Pat Harris reports.

Deep Vein Thrombosis affects about two million people in the United States every year. It occurs when a blood clot forms in one of your large veins, usually in your lower limbs, partially or completely blocking circulation.

Melanie Bloom led New York City's kick-off for the Third Annual Coalition to Prevent DVT. She is the widow of David Bloom, an NBC television correspondent who died in 2003 from complications related to DVT while covering the war in Iraq.

In Washington, D.C., the cheerleaders of the Washington Redskins football team began the kick-off events for DVT.

Dr. Craig Kessler at the Georgetown University Medical Center explains how serious DVT can be. "Deep Vein-Thrombosis is an under-appreciated disease that occurs in over two-million people annually in the United States, and it's associated with the deaths of over-200 thousand people in the United States every year. That's actually more than the death rate of breast cancer and AIDS combined in our country."

Lizzy O'Hara discovered she had DVT about 5 years ago. "I was on a run about five years ago at the beach and I noticed a very bad pain in my left knee. I thought I'd pulled a muscle, gave it some rest and realized later that it was a DVT."

Dr. Kessler said there are several symptoms to watch for if you think you have DVT. "The symptoms of DVT are typically swelling of one leg verses the other, redness, soreness, difficulty with pain on walking, and unfortunately 50 percent of DVT is asymptomatic (producing no symptoms)."

Research shows there are several risk factors for DVT.

Lizzy O'Hara says she takes extra precautions by wearing compression stockings and taking aspirin daily. "I was on blood thinners for a significant amount of time and today I continue taking aspirin which is also a blood thinner."

There are few warning signs of DVT. Dr. Kessler advises speaking to a physician right away if you think you are at risk. "I think the important thing is to seek medical attention. Speak to your physician; let your physician know what your symptoms are. The physician can then examine you, and then perform the radiology test, the X-ray test that are necessary to establish the diagnosis."

Recognizing signs and symptoms of DVT will help reduce its risks before it occurs.

The DVT event in Washington ended with the Redskin cheerleaders performing one of their routines, called a kick-line.