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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Minor Leg Injuries May Up Clot Risk

Study Suggests Threefold Increase in Risk

Clot Risk Higher in Elderly, Obese

Pulmonologist Victor F. Tapson, MD, of Duke University Medical Center, has studied deep vein blood clots for many years.

He says the new study should serve to raise awareness among doctors and their patients.

"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," he tells WebMD. "This is an important paper."

The findings could be especially important for patients at high risk of developing blood clots, such as those who are elderly, obese, or who have a family history of blood clots.

"These people need to be aware that even minor injuries and a relatively short duration of inactivity could lead to blood clotting," Richard C. Becker, MD, director of the Duke Cardiovascular Thrombosis Center, tells WebMD.

As many as three in 1,000 people develop deep vein clots each year. Although most people who experience minor leg injuries have little to worry about, Rosendaal says everyone should be aware that such injuries can increase their clot risk.

"If you sprain your ankle and your ankle hurts and is swollen, that is to be expected," he says. "But if the calf or thigh begins to hurt or swells too, that is not normal. And if you develop pulmonary symptoms like shortness of breath or pain in the chest, don't ignore them."

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