What Are the Basics of Deep Vein Thrombosis?

How to define deep vein thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood clots form in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in the legs.

Deep vein thrombosis can be life-threatening, because blood clots in your veins can break, travelling through bloodstream and lodging in your lungs.

Certain medical conditions may lead to deep vein thrombosis. DVT can also lead to several health problems, such as pulmonary embolism, postphlebitic syndrome, etc.

 

What causes deep vein thrombosis?

Many factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which include:

  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay, or paralysis.
  • Smoking
  • Injury or surgery
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Family history of deep vein thrombosis

 

What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

In mild cases of deep vein thrombosis, signs and symptoms can include:

  • Swelling in one or both legs

  • Pain or tenderness in one or both legs
  • Red or discolored skin on your leg
  • Swollen, red and hard veins
  • A feeling of warmth in the affected leg

In severe cases of deep vein thrombosis, signs and symptoms can include:

  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Severe lightheadedness
  • Pain when breathing
  • Sharp chest pain or chest tightness
  • Sudden coughing with blood

 

How to diagnose deep vein thrombosis?

Besides the conventional physical exam, you may also need other tests to rule out other problems or to confirm the diagnosis.

D-Dimer Test
D-dimer may appear in your blood when a clot starts to break down. If you have a clot, levels will be high.

Duplex Ultrasound
Spread warm gel on your skin and then rubs a wand over the area where the clot could be. The wand can send sound waves and make pictures of your blood vessels and sometimes the blood clots.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI )
Radio waves and a strong magnetic field can make detailed pictures of the inside of your body on a computer, thus finding DVT in your pelvis and thigh.

Venography
Venography is more accurate than an ultrasound. Inject a radioactive dye into a vein on the top of your foot to see the veins or maybe a clot.

 

How to treat deep vein thrombosis?

Common treatments for deep vein thrombosis may include:

Blood Thinners
Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, can be injected or taken as pills. These kind of drugs usually include Heparin, Enoxaparin (Lovenox), Dalteparin (Fragmin), Fondaparinux (Arixtra), etc.

Clot Busters
It is given either through an IV or through a catheter placed directly into the clot, they can cause serious bleeding, so they are only used in more severe cases of deep vein thrombosis.

Compression Stockings
Wear compression stockings on your legs from your feet to about the level of your knees to prevent swelling associated with DVT.

Filters
Have a filter inserted into a large vein – the vena cava – in your abdomen, thus preventing clots that break loose from lodging in your lungs.

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* 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.