Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when the blood forms a clot in the vein somewhere deep within the body, usually within groups of muscles.
DVT in the elderly has a higher mortality rate and occurs more frequently in geriatric patients. It is often less obvious in the elderly, but it can be more dangerous. Most often, the clots form in the thighs or lower legs, but they can occur in the arms or upper body as well. Anyone who has had major surgery may be at a higher risk of developing DVT, especially where the surgery is performed on the hips and/or legs.
Risk factors for DVT. Various things put you more at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis including:
- Family predisposition/genetics
- Age (over 60)
- Type A blood
Other diseases associated with the elderly, such as cancer and arterial disease, and heart disease, also increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. DVT in the elderly can be more difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can present atypically or be asymptomatic.
Symptoms can include a painful swelling in the leg or discolored, red or white skin. You may also develop a fever, be warm to the touch and see more visible veins on the surface of the skin. Aches, tenderness and pain will standing or walking may also suggest a DVT.
Reducing DVT. DVT in the elderly can be reduced by keeping active, especially while travelling, or by stretching out and moving your feel and legs when sitting. Try to wear loose clothing and drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol. Where possible, get up and about after being ill or having surgery because it stimulates the circulation of the blood or wear elastic stockings to promote circulation and reduce any swelling.