What is deep vein thrombosis?
vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot
forms in a vein located deep inside your body. A blood clot is a clump of blood
that is in a gelatinous, solid state. Deep vein blood clots typically form in
your thigh or lower leg, but they can also develop in other areas of your body.
Other names for this condition include thromboembolism, post-thrombotic syndrome,
and post-phlebitic syndrome.
Who is at risk for deep vein thrombosis?
occurs most commonly in people who are over 50 years in age. Certain conditions
that alter how your blood moves through your veins can raise your risk of
developing clots. These include:
an injury that damages your veins
overweight, which puts more pressure on the veins in your legs and pelvis
a family history of DVT
a catheter placed in a vein
birth control pills or undergoing hormone therapy
(especially heavy usage)
seated for a long time while you’re in a car or on a plane, especially if you
already have at least one other risk factor
diseases and disorders can increase your risk of having blood clots. These
include hereditary blood clotting disorders, especially when you have at least
one other risk factor. Cancer and inflammatory bowel disease can also increase
the risk of developing a blood clot. Heart failure, a condition that makes it
more difficult for your heart to pump blood, also occurs with an increased risk
is a major risk associated with surgery. This is especially true if you’re
having a surgery in the lower extremities, such as joint replacement surgery. Your
doctor will discuss the risk of DVT if you need joint replacement surgery.
pregnant increases your risk of DVT. Increased hormone levels, and a slower blood
flow as your uterus expands and restricts blood flowing back from your lower
extremities, contribute to this risk. This elevated risk continues until about
six weeks after giving birth. Being on bed rest or having a C-section also
increases your risk of having DVT.
What are the symptoms of deep vein
to the National Heart, Lung,
and Blood Institute,
symptoms of DVT only occur in about half of the people who have this condition.
Common symptoms include:
in your foot, ankle, or leg, usually on one side
pain in your affected leg that usually begins in your calf
unexplained pain in your foot and ankle
area of skin that feels warmer than the skin on the surrounding areas
over the affected area turning pale or a reddish or bluish color
may not find out that they have deep vein thrombosis until they’ve gone through
emergency treatment for a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is a
life-threatening complication of DVT in which an artery in the lung becomes
What are the treatment options for deep vein
treatments focus on keeping the clot from growing. In addition, treatment will
attempt to prevent a pulmonary embolism and lower your risk of having more
doctor might prescribe medications that thin your blood, such as heparin and
warfarin. This makes it harder for your blood to clot. It also keeps existing
clots as small as possible and decreases the chance that you’ll develop more
blood thinners don’t work or if you have a severe case of DVT, your doctor
might use thrombolytic drugs. Thrombolytic drugs work by breaking up clots. You’ll
receive these intravenously.
compression stockings can prevent swelling and lower your chance of developing
clots. They reach just below your knee or right above it. You’ll most likely
wear these every day.
might need to have a filter put inside the large abdominal vein called the vena
cava if you aren’t able to take blood thinners. This form of treatment helps
prevent pulmonary embolisms by stopping clots from entering your lungs.
What are the complications associated with
deep vein thrombosis?
major complication of DVT is a pulmonary embolism. You can develop a pulmonary
embolism if a blood clot moves to your lungs and blocks a blood vessel. This
can cause serious damage to your lungs and other parts of your body. You should
get immediate medical help if you have signs of a pulmonary embolism. These
pain that gets worse with coughing or inhaling deeply
How do I prevent deep vein thrombosis?
can lower your risk of having DVT by making a few lifestyle changes. These
include keeping your blood pressure under control, giving up smoking, and
losing weight if you’re overweight. Moving your legs around when you’ve been
sitting for a while also helps keep your blood flowing. Walking around after
being on bed rest can prevent clots from forming. Take any blood thinners your
doctor prescribes if you’re having surgery, as this can lower your chance of
developing clots afterward.
risk of developing DVT during travel is low, but it becomes higher if you’re sitting
for more than four hours at a time while driving or flying. You can lower risk
by moving around every so often — get out of your car and move around at
intervals during long drives. Walk in the aisles if you’re flying, taking a
train, or riding a bus. Stretch your legs and feet while you’re sitting; this
keeps your blood moving steadily in your calves. Don’t wear tight clothes that
can restrict blood flow.