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Even Minor Injuries Can Lead to Blood Clots

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 10:56 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs


Even a minor leg injury can increase your chances of developing a serious blood clot.  Keep moving researchers recommend.

Thrombosis also known as blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) has generally been associated with surgery or sitting too long on an airplane. About two million people in the U.S. develop DVT each year which can be deadly if the clot travels to the lungs or brain and blocks an artery.
Now researchers believe that even a minor leg injury, such as an ankle sprain or muscle pull, can be a hidden contributor to blood clots in the veins.

Blood clots occur around a site when platelets form a plug and decreased blood flow causes the death of the tissue. If the clot migrates a free-floating embolus can cause a stoppage elsewhere in the body. A brain embolism, for example, kills people suddenly even when they are in otherwise good shape.

Researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied 2,471 patients who had venous thrombosis (clot in the veins) and found 11.7 percent had experienced a minor leg injury which did not require surgery or bed rest.   Among the group without blood clots, a smaller percentage, 4.4 percent, had some minor injury to the leg prior to developing the blood clot.  

Pulmonologist Victor F. Tapson, MD, of Duke University Medical Center has spent many years studying blood clots in deep veins.  He tells WebMD, "I don't think it would surprise most experts that minor leg injury would be a risk factor for these clots, but it is not something that most clinicians are aware of. This is an important paper."

The article in the Archives of Internal Medicine concludes that a minor injury, even a twisted ankle, might not catch your attention but could make you three times more likely to develop a clot inside the body. If after an injury, your leg begins to swell and you develop breathing difficulties or pain in the chest, don’t ignore the symptoms.

Among people with a genetic predisposition to blood clots, the serious risks jump to 50-fold from even minor leg surgery.  Being elderly, obese or having a family history of blood clots are an indicator of an elevated risk. 

The worst thing is to be immobile. Doctors suggest you simply keep moving if injured, start moving if immobile or be aware that sitting for a long time, such as on an airplane should be discouraged.  #


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