Purpose: To determine whether increased physical activity 1 month after deep vein thrombosis (DVT) led to worsening of venous symptoms and signs within the subsequent 3 months.
Methods: By a multicenter prospective cohort study of patients with acute DVT, we used validated questionnaires at baseline, 1 month, and 4 months post-DVT for each exposure, using the Godin Questionnaire to measure physical activity, the VEINES-QOL to measure disease severity, and the postthrombotic syndrome (PTS) scale to measure symptoms and signs usually attributed to sequelae of DVT.
Results: Of 301 patients followed for 4 months, 25% were inactive and 25% were only mildly active before their DVT. In univariate analysis, physical activity at 1 month was not associated with a change in PTS score between 1 month and 4 months (P = 0.42). After adjusting for the potential confounders of age, sex, pre-DVT physical activity, and disease severity at 1 month, the results suggested that higher physical activity levels at 1 month may be protective against worsening of the PTS score over the subsequent 3 months. Compared with those who were inactive at 1 month, the adjusted OR was 0.93 (95%CI: 0.47, 1.87) for mildly to moderately active persons, and 0.52 (95%CI: 0.24, 1.15) for highly active persons. Among patients who were active pre-DVT (N = 220), 55.5% had returned to their previous levels of physical activity or greater within 4 months.
Conclusions: For most persons, exercise at 1 month post-DVT does not appear to worsen venous symptoms and signs over the subsequent 3 months, and more than 50% resume their usual level of activity within 4 months.