Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that forms in one of the veins in a muscle. It most commonly develops within a leg, but it can also occur in other parts of the body, including the chest or arms. DVT can range from painful to life-threatening. The affected leg might swell and hurt. The clot can become dislodged and migrate to the heart, brain or lungs. If it blocks a vein connected to these organs, it can kill.
What Are the Symptoms?
Deep vein thrombosis often causes pain and swelling in the affected leg. The pain usually starts in the calf and can feel like a cramp. On rare occasions, both legs might swell. The skin near the affected area can also become red. Unfortunately, about half the people with DVT don’t experience any symptoms at all.
Pulmonary embolism is a highly dangerous complication of DVT. Symptoms include sudden and unexplained shortness of breath, coughing up blood, lightheadedness or dizziness, rapid pain and chest pain that gets worse when the patient coughs or takes a deep breath. Anybody who experiences such symptoms should get medical help immediately. A pulmonary embolism can kill.
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
The chief cause of DVT is poor blood flow. Blood that circulates slowly is more likely to pool, and the blood cells are more likely to clump together and form a clot. While anybody can develop DVT, it is most common in people who are over 60 years old.
What Slows Down Blood Flow?
A very common cause of slowed blood flow is surgery involving the legs, abdomen, hips or chest. The surgical procedure itself could jar loose fats, proteins and tissues within the veins. If a vein’s wall gets damaged, it might release chemicals that can cause the blood to clot.
A patient who has had major surgery will typically be put on bed rest. As they are not walking or otherwise using their leg muscles, the blood flow in their legs slows down. Any injury or illness that results in bed rest lasting for more than three days can cause a blood clot.
Other Medical Risk Factors
• A blood-clotting disorder
• A history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
• Varicose veins
• A history of heart disease or stroke
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Hormone treatments for post-menopause or birth control
• Recent delivery, especially by a Caesarian section
Being overweight increases the chances of developing DVT, for the extra weight increases the pressure on the veins in the legs, which makes it harder for them to move the blood quickly. Smoking has deleterious impacts on both circulation and clotting and is another cause of DVT. Prolonged inactivity can also cause DVT. During long car rides or plane trips, the patient doesn’t move much, and the blood will collect in their legs as a result.
How Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Prevented?
A patient can decrease their risks of developing DVT by developing good health habits, like exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If they have a family history of DVT or are otherwise at risk, they should discuss other preventive measures with our doctor.
If you think you may be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, make an appointment at Fox Vein Experts in Pembroke Pines and Hollywood. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to find out about your treatment options.