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Deep Vein Thrombosis


Are you scared your blood is coagulating inside your body?

It's not just an anxiety disorder when your leg veins fill with gelatinous blood clots -- from prolonged immobilization from having your hip replaced, taking a transatlantic flight, or watching the whole five seasons of "Breaking Bad" in a single sitting. Big globs of half-clotted blood drift free into your blood stream, wash slowly up the veins from your legs and entangle themselves in the delicate web of capillary blood vessels that fills your lungs. The result is a pulmonary embolus -- chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden downward revision of your life expectation.

It certainly doesn't help if you smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, or happen to carry an unfortunate gene mutation such as Antithrombin III deficiency or unlucky antibodies processed by patients with Lupus Anticoagulant. If you're in the mood to read up on the details, be advised that blood clotting depends upon 12 different factors working along two independent pathways. Asking your doctor for a detailed explanation is likely to result in poor eye contact, prolonged leg shuffling and an abrupt departure to take a phone call.

But at least the diagnosis is easy -- an ultrasound of the veins in your leg -- and the treatment is fairly inexpensive -- Coumadin, derived from an essential ingredient of rat poison. The drug blocks the effects of vitamin K necessary for normal blood clot formation. Physicians perversely refer to this as "thinning the blood" although it has absolutely no effect on how thick your blood is.

Don't fret over lumps in your varicose veins or worrying about the bruised shin you got last night stumbling into the coffee table after your third martini. But if you have a painful, congested swollen leg, it's probably time to go to the emergency room.

Better yet -- minimize your chances of DVT by dumping your computer into the trash and getting some exercise. You can start by leaving this web site!

Or you could click "Try Again" to hear an even worse diagnosis!

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