Information Is Available About Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT, refers to the formation of blood clots in a person's deep veins. There can be singular or multiple blood clots. DVT typically occurs in a patient's legs. Blood clots form when blood is not moving quickly enough through the body. Red blood cells will begin to clump together when this happens. Deep vein thrombosis is typically asymptomatic, but can be life threatening if one of the blood clots breaks loose. When this happens, it could cause a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is when blood travels towards your lungs and blocks blood flow. Deep vein thrombosis occurs frequently in the United States, with over 200,000 cases each year. Thankfully, deep vein thrombosis is treatable when recognized and treated early. It's important to see a physician if any signs of DVT are recognized.

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Simply enough, deep vein thrombosis is caused by anything that prevents normal blood clotting or flow. Most people develop DVT because of an infection, inflammation due to injury, or vein damage during surgery. However, there are certain risk factors that put a patient at greater risk for getting a blood clot. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Long term bed rest
  • Sitting for a prolonged period of time
  • Being over the age of 60
  • Birth control pills
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Smoking
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Vein injury or surgery
  • Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease, or other forms of bowel inflammation
  • Genetics
  • Heart failure
  • Cancer
  • Family history, especially a parent or sibling
  • Previous pulmonary embolisms

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

For a lot of people, deep vein thrombosis may not cause any symptoms. When a patient does develop symptoms of a pulmonary embolism or DVT, they may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid pulse
  • Chest discomfort, especially when you inhale or cough
  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Sudden rapid breathing
  • Pain in one or both legs
  • Throbbing in one or both legs
  • Red skin around painful area on leg
  • Cramping in the calf region
  • Warmth in one or both calves

A lot of these symptoms can overlap with those of a heart attack, so it's important to head to the hospital once you begin experiencing these symptoms in order to prevent further damage and to prevent a pulmonary embolism.

Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis has multiple treatments, and it will take a consultation with your doctor to determine the best one for you. Many DVT patients are prescribed blood thinners. Blood thinners can come in pill, IV, and through injections. Blood thinners don't get rid of pre existing clots, but they will prevent the ones that exist from growing larger.

Another line of treatment is referred to as clot busters. If blood thinners don't work or if your DVT is more serious, clot busters are prescribed to shrink the clots that are already there. These drugs are given by IV or catheter to the patient. For patients that cannot take blood thinners or clot busters, a filter will be placed in the vena cava in their abdomen to prevent a pulmonary embolism from occurring. For milder cases, a doctor may suggest compression stockings and light exercise to prevent clotting.