Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in a vein deep in the body. According to the American Heart Association, DVT strikes one out of every 1,000 adults in the US.
Inactivity, obesity, and smoking are the three life-style risk factors that patients can modify to reduce the chance of developing DVT, according to the American Heart Association. Persons with cancer or heart disease, or those who have experienced prior DVT, trauma, or surgery are also at increased risk for DVT.
Until recently, bedrest was often prescribed for persons with DVT. However, a large study published in Chest (May 2005; 127(5): 1631-1636) indicates that bedrest is not necessary to prevent pulmonary embolism (movement of DVT blood clot to the lungs). Many hospitalized persons may not be able to walk, however, due to other conditions and treatments.
New England Journal of Medicine (March 2005; 352(10): 969-977) study showed significantly less DVT in hospitalized patients whose physicians received computer notification of the need for DVT prevention, as compared to patients whose physicians were not notified via computer. Active strategies such as this one may help to identify at risk patients and encourage preventive therapies because they remind busy physicians to consider otherwise silent but potentially deadly risk factors.