Peripheral Arterial Disease FAQ
FAQ: Deep Vein Thrombosis
Coastal Vascular Center is a leading vascular center in the country, and we know that you have a lot of questions. We’re here to answer them!
People are largely unaware of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs. DVT is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. These clots can be dangerous if they break off and travel to the lungs. When this happens, it causes a serious, potentially life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism.
The number of people affected by pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis is unknown, but estimates range from 300,000 to 600,000 (1 to 2 per 1,000) each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in those over 80 years of age, as high as 1 in 100 may be affected by pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis.
If there’s something on your mind or if you can’t find what it is that you need for deep vein thrombosis online, give us a call at 713-999-6056. Coastal Vascular Center is always happy to answer your questions.
What causes DVT?
Blood clots may form in veins due to immobility, for example, after surgery or if you sit for a long flight or car trip. Other risk factors for developing deep vein thrombosis include:
- Injuries from an accident
- Prior history of DVT
- Family history of DVT
- Having a central venous catheter
- Being overweight
- Taking birth control pills or hormone therapy
What are the risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
People confined to bed for an extended period are at greater risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Paralysis, coma, being in a cast, or recovering from surgery can all increase your risk. Long plane or car rides can predispose you to DVT because the legs are inactive while sitting. Obesity, smoking, dehydration, use of birth control pills or hormones, a family history of clotting disorders, and a history of cancer are other potential risk factors.
Can healthy, athletic people get DVT?
Yes, anyone of any age with risk factors above can develop deep vein thrombosis.
What are the symptoms of DVT?
Common symptoms are:
- Swelling of the leg
- Pain or tenderness in the leg
- Increased warmth in the area of the leg that is swollen or painful
- Red or discolored skin in the area of the leg that is swollen or painful
How is Deep Vein Thrombosis treated?
Treatment options for deep vein thrombosis may include surgical removal of clots, placing a stent, or balloon angioplasty in a vein to enlarge the opening and allow blood to flow more freely. Making lifestyle changes is another option. Changes include exercising regularly to promote circulation, strengthening muscles, and wearing compression stockings.
Talk with your doctor if you have any symptoms or if you have any of the risks for DVT. Some cases have no symptoms, so you don’t know you have it until you are dealing with a more serious problem.
Do I need to worry about blood clots during surgery?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs. The incidence of DVT varies depending on a person’s other risk factors, the type of surgery, and the rehabilitation process afterward. The highest-risk operations are joint replacements (as high as 25 percent risk) and major abdominal surgery for cancer (as high as 20 percent risk). Varicose vein surgery is associated with a <1 percent risk of DVT, less than the risk of developing a clot if your leg were splinted for an ankle sprain. For major surgery, your doctor may have you wear compression devices (SCDs) on the legs or take anticoagulants to reduce the risk of DVT. Staying well-hydrated and remembering to move your legs will help reduce your risk.
What precautions can I take on plane rides?
Wear compression socks on long flights and whenever you travel by car. Keep your legs active during the flight by pointing and flexing the toes, rotating the ankle in circles, or bobbing the legs up and down in your seat—or better yet, walking the plane length every hour or so.
Studies suggest that people who get aisle seats on airplanes are less likely to develop deep vein thrombosis because they are more likely to move around during the flight. If you take a long car trip, frequently stop at rest stops and get out of the car to stretch your legs or take a short walk. Stay well hydrated on the flight. You can also take aspirin before boarding the plane.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary embolism?
Some people may not be aware that they have deep vein thrombosis until a clot breaks off and travels to their lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. The symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Chest pain when taking in a deep breath
- Shortness of breath
- A sensation of your heart beating fast
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