(NewsUSA) - In Beaverton, Ore., Stephanie Glyzewski's first blood clot went unnoticed for three weeks after routine knee surgery. Following days of excruciating pain and swelling, Glyzewski's doctor discovered the clot lodged in her leg, a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The blood clot in Glyzewski's leg broke loose from her leg and made a beeline for her lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), a complication of DVT that nearly killed her. Years later, Glyzewski's second DVT emerged a month after her daughter was born. A complicated labor led to a fever and a DVT more agonizing than the last.
"DVT has changed my life forever. I can't have any more children, I'll be on clotting medication for the rest of my life and I have to watch my diet religiously and avoid any strenuous activity," says Glyzewski. "However, I feel extremely grateful to be alive."
Glyzewski, a young, athletic woman, almost lost her life to DVT, and thousands like her aren't so lucky.
According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, 600,000 Americans are affected by DVT and PE each year with more than 100,000 fatalities. Shockingly, DVT and PE cause more deaths a year than breast cancer, car accidents and AIDs combined.
"For women, the risk of getting DVT is even higher. Pregnancy, birth control products and hormone therapies are risk factors, plus extended hospitalization, recent surgery, family history of DVT and obesity," says Suman Rathbun, MD with the Vascular Disease Foundation. "Anyone can develop DVT. Young, old, athletic -- it doesn't discriminate. But the more risk factors you have, the greater the likelihood of developing DVT."
To raise awareness about DVT and its related issues, health organizations partnered to create a national health campaign, "This is Serious." Developed by the Vascular Disease Foundation in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the multi-media campaign seeks to educate women about their gender-specific risks for DVT and PE and motivate preventative action.
Physicians recommend getting checked if you have symptoms or more than one risk factor. Common symptoms are redness of skin, recent swelling in limb, unexplained pain and hot or warm skin.
Since these symptoms can mirror other minor aches and pains, there's often a delay in diagnosis, which opens the door for a potentially fatal PE. Whether it's a small piece or the entire blood clot that travels to the lungs, it can be deadly. PE causes shortness of breath, sharp chest pains and coughing up blood, all of which signal an immediate need for medical attention.
Get more details and support at www.ThisIsSerious.org.