As a physio, Bev was sure she had a DVT - but it was only diagnosed after she ... trends now

As a physio, Bev was sure she had a DVT - but it was only diagnosed after she ... trends now
As a physio, Bev was sure she had a DVT - but it was only diagnosed after she ... trends now

As a physio, Bev was sure she had a DVT - but it was only diagnosed after she ... trends now

After completing the challenging 73-mile Hadrian's Wall hike in North-East England, physiotherapist Bev Strathearn was feeling on top on the world.

'I felt fit for my age and healthy,' says 56-year-old Bev. Yet only weeks later she found herself in hospital suffering from life-threatening blood clots that had been caused by a foot injury she sustained during the hike.

'I began to sit with my right leg bent back under my chair at work to avoid putting pressure on the sole of my foot,' recalls Bev, who lives in Beverley, East Yorkshire, with her husband and their two adult daughters.

'Two weeks later I noticed a pain in my right calf, and I didn't sleep well because of it. But I was busy looking after my elderly dad so I put off doing anything about it.'

But then Bev noticed a red patch the size of a golf ball on her right calf. As a physiotherapist, she knew she had some of the risk factors for a blood clot: she'd been sitting down at work much more doing online consultations, was dehydrated and was also on oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the menopause.

'But by the evening it was killing me and I decided to seek medical advice the following morning,' she says.

'I felt fit for my age and healthy,' says 56-year-old Bev Strathearn (pictured). Yet only weeks later she found herself in hospital suffering from life-threatening blood clots that had been caused by a foot injury she sustained during the hike.

'I felt fit for my age and healthy,' says 56-year-old Bev Strathearn (pictured). Yet only weeks later she found herself in hospital suffering from life-threatening blood clots that had been caused by a foot injury she sustained during the hike.

Bev contacted NHS 111, saying she suspected she had a blood clot (also known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT). They referred her to a minor injuries unit. DVTs are clots that form in the deep veins of the leg. Symptoms include redness, pain, a heavy ache and sometimes swelling, usually in the calf or thigh.

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Risk factors for developing a DVT include being immobile — for instance, sitting for long periods or being admitted to hospital — plus cancer, pregnancy, injury, older age, obesity, the Pill and HRT, which all make the blood more 'sticky' and likely to clot.

One of the most serious complications of a DVT is when a part of the clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, leading to a blockage called a pulmonary embolism — this can cause chest pain, breathing difficulties, a faster heartbeat, coughing up blood, and can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Worryingly, research suggests 40 per cent of patients who die from a pulmonary embolism complained of nagging symptoms for weeks before their death.

For every pulmonary embolism diagnosed in time, there are at least another two where the diagnosis was missed and resulted in sudden death, according to the charity Thrombosis UK.

The number of deaths caused by blood clots has risen in England from 12,457 a year in 2019/20 to 14,846 in 2021/22.

Beverley Hunt, a professor of thrombosis and founder of Thrombosis UK, says the charity has major concerns over the number of clots being missed.

'Many people contact us who have been turned away by healthcare professionals because either they don't have the 'classic' symptoms of clots, or it is wrongly thought that they're too young to have a clot,' she explains.

'In the old medical textbooks the 'classic' picture of a DVT shows a large, swollen red leg, for

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