In an article in HealthDay (3/21, Reinberg) a report from the online edition of the American Heart Association suggests that doctors should treat cases of potentially life threatening blood clots that form in the legs more aggressively.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in the body frequently in the legs. It can cause leg pain but also can occur without symptoms. This condition can occur, at times, when sitting for a long time such as traveling on a long trip by plane or car and also if one has certain medical conditions that changes how the blood clots.

One of the serious conditions that DVT can result in is when a blood clot breaks loose and travels to a different part of the body such as the lungs-this is called a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism can be fatal so it is important to look for the symptoms of this condition which may include unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, lightheadedness or dizziness, coughing up blood, or an extreme sense of anxiety or nervousness.  If any symptoms suggesting pulmonary embolism occur this is a medical emergency and one should consider seeking medical attention immediately.

Deep vein thrombosis when it occurs presents in several ways including swelling in one of the legs, pain in the leg, at times along with redness and warmth over the area of the leg.

In the United States more than 250,000 people annually are hospitalized for deep vein thrombosis. The American Heart Association is presently suggesting more aggressive treatment with clot busting medications and intervention with catheters to break up the clots.

Dr. Steven Reisman, Director of The New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center advises several preventative maneuvers to try to help prevent blood clots. These include if one is going on a long trip whenever possible get up and walk around. Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes to the floor and then raise your toes keeping your heels on the floor. Make lifestyle changes such as lose weight, quit smoking, and control your blood pressure. Wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots if your doctor recommends them.