Venous Thromboembolism: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedy

Overview

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) refers to a blood clot that starts in a vein. It consists two types of conditions: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – it occurs when a blood clot forms in deep vein, such as in in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis.
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE) – it happens when a DVT clot breaks free from a vein wall and travels through the bloodstream to the lung. After that, some or all of the blood supply may be blocked. PE is much more serious than DVT. Sometimes it can be fatal.

The incidence of venous thromboembolism seems to differ between Whites and Blacks in the USA. About 250,000 USA Whites are affected every year, while the number of the cases that happen among USA Blacks is 27,000 annually.

Causes

Surgery, cancer, immobilization and hospitalization are the main factors that can trigger VTE. If something slows or changes the flow of blood, it will be easier for DVT to form in the legs. Beyond these, getting pregnant and using hormones like oral contraceptives or estrogen for menopause symptoms will increase women’s risk of developing VTE.

Moreover, excessive blood clotting may be caused if there are changes in the genetic code of some proteins needed for clotting, or proteins that help dissolve blood clots in the body.

The following groups of people are at higher risk for clotting:

  • Older people (most common in people over 60)
  • People who are obese or overweight
  • People with cancer or other conditions (including autoimmune disorders such as lupus)
  • People whose blood is thicker than normal because their bone marrow produces too many blood cells

Symptoms

Deep vein thrombosis usually affects the large veins in your lower leg and thigh, almost always on one side of the body at a time. Symptoms may include:

  • Leg pain or tenderness of the thigh or calf
  • Leg swelling (edema)
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Reddish discoloration or red streaks

As mentioned above, pulmonary embolism may block some or all of the blood supply to the lung, which will eventually result in:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest pain anywhere under the rib cage (may be worse with deep breathing)
  • Fast heart rate
  • Light headedness or passing out

Diagnosis

At first step, blood work may be done including a test called D-dimer, which detects clotting activity. Options for diagnosing DVT and PE are different.

For DVT, doctors often use Ultrasound of the leg.

For PE, Computed tomography, or CT scan, or CAT scan is the common choice in most cases. Sometime, ventilation-perfusion lung scan will be used.

Treatment

People with venous thromboembolism often recover from early diagnosis and treatment. However, long-term complications may still occur.

The primary goal of treatment is to prevent clots from taking shape or to break up clots. Effective options involve:

  • Anticoagulants

This includes injectables such as heparin or low molecular weight heparin, or tablets such as apixaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, edoxaban and warfarin. It should be noted that this should be given for a fixed number of months if the patients get the VTE because of a provoking factor like surgery, trauma, pregnancy, hospital stay, or hormone treatments.

Heparin – Use & side effects

Apixaban: Uses & Side Effects

Dabigatran: Uses & Side Effects

Rivaroxaban: Uses & Side Effects

Edoxaban: Uses & Side Effects

Warfarin – Coumadin, Jantoven

  • Thrombolytic therapy

It includes drugs such as a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), — a clot-dissolving enzyme.

Both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are life-threatening. People with venous thromboembolism need immediate medical attention. If you experience some symptoms of it, please see a doctor as soon as possible.

Home remedy

When you return home, it’ll be a good timing to start a healthy lifestyle to help improve your recovery. Prevention is another important topic. Nearly one in three patients who have had VTE will experience a repeat VTE event in the next 10 years. Despite of taking medication as your doctor prescribed, some changes in the lifestyle can help in the prevention of a repeat VTE.

  • Heart-healthy eating
    • limit the amount of alcohol you drink, your doctor should have told you that alcohol can be dangerous if you are taking blood-thinning medicine.
    • if you are taking warfarin, discuss your diet pattern and supplements with your doctor, since foods that contain vitamin K can affect how well warfarin works, so it is important to eat about the same amount of vitamin K each day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and some oils, such as canola and soybean oils.
  • Being physically active

    • keep moving regularly while you are healing.
    • ask your medical care team when you can start being physically active and how much activity is appropriate.
  • Aiming for a healthy weight
    • obesity is a risk factor for a repeat VTE event.
    • you can improve your health by aiming for a healthy weight.

What is your ideal weight? How much is your BMI? Use these easy tools to evaluate if you are having a healthy weight.

Ideal Weight Calculator

BMI Calculator

  • Managing stress
    • stress can increase the risk of other conditions that can lead to VTE, such as heart attack and stroke.
  • Quitting smoking
    • smoking increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and it may aggravate other factors known to raise the risk of VTE.

What’s your risk of stroke in 5-10 years? Learn your risk and take preventional measures. 

Stroke Risk Calculator

  • Avoid long-time sitting or laying down
    • A new study shows reducing sedentary time by just an hour a day appears to lower the risk of blood clot, cardiovascular diseases, and for heart disease alone, by a dramatic 26 percent. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

 

Keywords: venous thromboembolism; deep vein thrombosis; pulmonary embolism

 

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Follow the DASH eating plan

 

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.