Deep Vein Thrombosis

Every year, as many as 900,000 people in the United States are affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolism (PE), and about 100,000 die. Having DVT or PE blood clots can be life threatening. DVT and PE blood clots are serious but treatable conditions. Arm yourself with the right information to treat and prevent blood clots.

Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins, often in the legs. DVT can cause severe pain and swelling, which can bring down your quality of life. It may even limit your mobility, depending on where it occurs.

Sitting for a long period of time is a risk factor for DVT. This is due to the blood pooling in the legs and may clot.  Other medical conditions such as family history, being pregnant, overweight, and a history of clotting may be at rick. Additionally there are 40 risk factors that can create this vascular disease.

Signs and symptoms of DVT include

  • Discomfort, heaviness, pain, aching, throbbing, itching, or warmth in the legs
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Skin changes in the leg, such as discoloration, thickening, or ulceration

Patients with DVT are at risk for developing post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS can involve chronic leg swelling, calf pain, calf heaviness/fatigue, skin discoloration, and/or venous ulcers.

What Causes Thrombosis

Anything that increases the pressure in the legs or causes the blood to pool there will increase the likelihood of developing DVT. That’s why pregnancy and obesity are listed as causes. The extra weight puts pressure on those veins and makes it harder for the blood vessels to circulate back up to the heart. Therefore, the blood is more likely to clot.

The same is true for sitting or lying down for long periods of time. Many people live a sedentary lifestyle in which they sit most of the day behind a desk. Others may end up in bed for long periods after an injury or an accident. When you are off your feet, the circulation slows and blood pools, making it more likely to clot.

Of course, any kind of clotting disorder or family history of clotting will also increase the chances of DVT. Heart disease, some types of cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease can increase risk, as can smoking and taking medications like birth control or hormone replacement therapy.

DVT Can Be Life Threatening

The most serious danger of DVT is pulmonary embolism, which occurs when the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs. Pulmonary embolism can be fatal, or it can lead to complications like heart attack or trouble breathing.

Post thrombotic syndrome can also occur. This syndrome can result in pain and swelling around the area of the clot, darkened skin, sores on the skin, and varicose veins. This condition is not as dangerous as pulmonary embolism, but it can be very uncomfortable and lower your quality of life.

Treatment for deep vein thrombosis can include lifestyle changes or surgery. Some options include surgically removing the clot or placing a stent or balloon angioplasty in a vein to enlarge the opening and allow blood to flow more freely.

Lifestyle changes can include getting exercise more regularly to promote circulation and strengthen the muscles. If you sit for long periods, you can elevate the arms and legs, or you can get up periodically to take small walks around the room or even around the building. You can also wear compression stockings that help promote circulation.

Talk with your doctor if you have any symptoms or if you have any of the risks for deep vein thrombosis. Some cases have no symptoms, so you don’t know you have it until you are dealing with a more serious problem.

Even if you already have DVT, there is help and successful treatments. Call the Coastal Vascular Center at 281-949-6020 today or contact us now to learn more about your options regarding DVT and let us help you find the ideal treatment.

Additional Information

DVT does not cause heart attack or stroke. There are two main types of blood clots.
How a clot affects the body depends on the type and location of the clot:

  • A blood clot in a deep vein of the leg, pelvis, and sometimes arm, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This type of blood clot does not cause heart attack or stroke.
  • A blood clot in an artery, usually in the heart or brain, is called arterial thrombosis. This type of blood clot can cause heart attack or stroke.

Both types of clots can cause serious health problems, but the causes and steps you can take to protect yourself are different.

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