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Joint replacement surgery raises your risk for DVT

When you take a long plane flight, you're advised to get up and walk around now and then to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). But did you know that DVT is also a significant risk for those entering a hospital for surgery? According to WebMD, it's one of the top six problems hospital patients encounter-and it can be a deadly one.

With so many Arizona residents scheduling total hip and knee replacements, this is vital information. While you are less mobile in the days immediately following surgery, you could be developing a blood clot deep in the veins of a leg. Surgery increases your risks because less blood is circulating, and because the body may respond to the shock of surgery by more easily forming clots. If a clot forms and it breaks free, it can travel to the lungs and block an artery, causing a pulmonary embolism. So what began as a simple knee replacement can end in a tragic death.

If precautions aren't taken, your odds for developing DVT after a major operation involving your legs or hips are one in four. For other surgeries, including knee and other joint replacement, your odds are one in two. Not every patient with DVT will develop a pulmonary embolism, but at least one in 10 will. As with most surgeries, being older can increase your risk. So can:

  • Having varicose veins
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Using hormone therapy or birth control pills
  • A family history of DVT
  • Certain kinds of malignant cancer

The use of blood thinners can help prevent DVT and with careful planning can be both safe and effective. However, studies show that some medical providers ignore this precaution. Be prepared to ask your doctor what will be done at the hospital to decrease your risk. Find out what the hospital staff will do for you to avoid an emergency both in the hospital and after you've been discharged.

Getting out of bed and walking as soon as you can after surgery is recommended as another way to ward off DVT. There are excellent treatments for DVT once it has been diagnosed, but the best plan of all is to avoid it altogether, if you can. Make sure the medical team you're trusting with your life is doing everything right.

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