Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that results from a blood clot that forms in the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. The blood clots may partially or completely block the flow of blood through your vein. While DVT commonly occurs in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, it can also occur in other parts of the body including your arm, brain, intestines, liver, or kidney.
DVT can be very serious and life-threatening because blood clots in your veins can break off, travel through your bloodstream, and get stuck in your lungs, blocking the flow of blood.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms
Symptoms of thrombosis include:
- Swelling in the affected leg
- Pain or soreness in the affected leg
- Tenderness in the affected leg
- Red or discolored skin on the affected leg
- Warmth feeling in the affected leg
- The veins closer to the surface of your skin may be larger than normal.
- Abdominal pain or flank pain. This occurs when blood clots affect the deep veins in your abdomen.
- Severe and sudden headache
Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes
Certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots can cause DVT. Damage to a vein from surgery or trauma, or inflammation due to infection or injury are common causes of deep vein thrombosis.
Several factors increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. These include:
- Aging, such as from 60 and above
- Sitting in a position for a long period
- Lying down for a prolonged period
- Birth control pills
- Overweight or obese
- Heart failure
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Having varicose veins
- A personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis
On rare occasions, a blood clot can occur without any known cause.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Diagnosis
A physical exam will be conducted to check for areas of swelling, tenderness, or changes in skin color. You will be asked to explain your symptoms.
Some tests may be conducted. These include:
1. Duplex ultrasound
This test created images of how blood flows through your veins. It’s the standard test used for diagnosing DVT.
This test creates an image of the veins in your legs and feet. It enables your doctor to check for blood clots.
3. D-dimer blood test
D-dimer is some type of protein that is produced by blood clots. Most people with severe DVT thrombosis have increased blood levels of D-dimer.
4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI shows images of organs and structures in your body, including the veins.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment
The main goals of treatment are to:
- Keep the blood clot from getting bigger and getting to other veins.
- Prevent the blood clot from breaking off in the vein and getting into the lungs.
- Reduce the risk of developing another blood clot.
- Prevent long-term complications.
Treatment options for DVT include:
Medications that can be used for DVT include:
1. Blood thinners
A common treatment for it is blood thinners. Blood thinners help to prevent blood clots from getting bigger. They also reduce your risk of developing more blood clots. Blood thinners may be taken orally or given by IV or as an injection. Warfarin can be taken orally while heparin is typically given through IV. Enoxaparin and fondaparinux are injectable blood thinners.
2. Clot busters
These medications might be prescribed if you have a more serious type of deep vein thrombosis, or if other medications fail to work. Clot busters are usually only used for people with severe blood clots because they can cause severe bleeding.
Vena cava Filters
A filter might be inserted into a large vein (vena cava) in your abdomen to prevent blood clots that break off from getting into your lungs. This filter helps to prevent a pulmonary embolism.
Compression stockings are special leg socks that compress the skin and underlying tissue to reduce the chances of blood pool and clotting. They also help to prevent swelling. You may need to wear compression stockings for a long period.
What is Venous Thromboembolism?
Venous thromboembolism is blood clots in the vein. It includes DVT and pulmonary embolism.
Types of deep vein thrombosis
There are two types of it. They are acute and chronic DVT.
What not to do with DVT
- Avoid standing or sitting in one spot for a prolonged period.
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid wearing clothes that restrict blood flow in your legs
- Avoid eating foods that cause weight gain
Is deep vein thrombosis serious?
DVT itself is not a very serious condition but blood clots can break off, travel through the blood, and get into the lungs. This can cause a very serious and life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.
What are the warning signs of deep vein thrombosis?
Warning signs of deep vein thrombosis include:
- Pain in your leg that feels like cramping or soreness
- Tenderness in your leg
- Swelling in your leg
- Warmth feeling in your leg
- The color of your leg may change
What happens if deep vein thrombosis is left untreated?
If left untreated, it can result in pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition.
Can dehydration cause DVT?
Dehydration can’t cause DVT but it can increase the risk of developing it because dehydration can make your blood thicker which slows circulation.
Is massage good for DVT?
It is not advisable to go for a massage session if you have DVT. This is because massaging your body could cause blood clots to break off and travel down into your lungs through the blood.