deep vein thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot deep in the veins of the body. The leg, thigh and pelvis are the most common areas for DVT to form. Deep vein thrombosis is dangerous and can be life threatening.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Risks: A blood clot is created when blood thickens and clumps together. When a clot forms in a deep vein, the potential is high for it to break off and travel through the blood stream to the lungs, blocking the blood flow. This is known as a pulmonary embolism.

Deep vein thrombosis may occur without symptoms, and is often the result of prolonged sitting or bed rest.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis generally occur in the legs, while some patients experience no warning signs.

Some deep vein thrombosis patients have no prior warning or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. When symptoms are present, they occur in the part of the leg, thigh, or other area where the thrombosis has formed.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT):

  • Swelling of the leg
  • Swelling along the vein
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg while standing or walking
  • A sluggish or tired feeling in the leg
  • The skin turns red or discolored, particularly behind the knee
  • The affected leg may feel warm

Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis are varied, from inactivity to pregnancy and genetics.

In some patients, the underlying cause for deep vein thrombosis is never diagnosed, however, in most cases, DVT can be attributed to these conditions.

  • Inactivity – When a person is inactive, and lower extremity range of motion is restricted, blood can accumulate and thicken in the legs and pelvis. This often happens during travel on a plane, train, in a car, or during post-surgery recuperation.
  • Damage to Veins: Damage can occur in various ways including post-surgery, because of an immune response, or from a leg injury.
  • Pregnancy: The fetus creates pressure on the leg veins and pelvis.
  • Obesity: Due to the added pressure on the veins of the legs and pelvic region.
  • Medications: Hormone therapy and birth control pills have been linked to an increase in DVT.
  • Genetics: Even if a person is born with a condition that causes their blood to clot easier than others, they still must have another underlying factor to develop DVT.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment

Traditional medical treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis includes medications.

The goal in treating deep vein thrombosis is to stop it from getting bigger, stopping the clot from traveling to the lungs, and finally, minimizing the chance of it happening again. Therefore, your doctor will likely pursue these options for treatment.

Anticoagulants – Medications like heparin and warfarin are given first. These blood thinners try to keep the clot from getting bigger.

Thrombolysis – Also called “clot busters,” these medications may cause serious bleeding and are therefore reserved only for life-threatening situations. The medicine, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), is given through an IV to try and break up the existing blood clot.

Vena Cava Filter – A filter is inserted into a large vein to catch blood clots before they travel to the lungs.

Compression stockings are a common treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis.

In most Deep Vein Thrombosis cases, it is, at this time, advisable to follow your doctor’s traditional, medicinally-based treatment plan.

While your doctor will likely prescribe the following, compression stockings are a non-medicinal option that is most commonly used for DVT patients.

Compression Stockings, worn from the foot to the knee, apply a constant amount of mild pressure to the calves in order to prevent blood from clotting.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Prevention

Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis primarily relies on the patient to maintain healthy habits.

Deep vein thrombosis can be prevented by eliminating risk factors, following safety precautions after surgery, and finding ways to move more while traveling or during prolonged periods of sitting.

  • Lifestyle changes: Maintain a healthy weight. Control blood pressure.
  • Medications: Take all medications as prescribed.
  • Following surgery: As soon as it is approved by your doctor, get up and walk, even for short distances. While in bed, move calves up and down to keep blood flowing.
  • Travel: On any trip longer than four hours, find ways to move your legs by taking a walk up the aisle of an airplane and stopping the car for a short walk. Also, stay hydrated and wear loose clothing.
  • Compression stockings: If you have a high risk for DVT or you have had one before, your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings on a regular basis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Resources

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