Common Questions about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Written by Dallas Vein Specialists on December 17, 2015
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 1,000 adults develops deep vein thrombosis (DVT) each year. Many people are unaware of DVT and its possible consequences. To improve understanding of DVT, including what causes it as well as how it can be prevented and treated, Dallas Vein Specialists shares the answers to the most common questions regarding DVT.
WHAT IS DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot is formed in one or more of the deep veins, most commonly in the leg. A vein may be either partially or completely blocked by the clot.
WHY IS DVT SO DANGEROUS?
If left untreated, the clot within the deep vein can break loose and travel in the circulation to the heart and into the lung vessels. This complication of DVT is called acute pulmonary embolism, a serious, possibly life-threatening condition.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DVT?
Some individuals experience no symptoms at all. Other individuals may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- swelling of the leg, including the entire leg or the calf and ankle
- pain or tenderness in the leg, most often in the calf, and often felt when standing or walking
- increased warmth in the area of the leg that is swollen or painful
- discoloration of the leg, usually a darkening or blue hue
AM I AT RISK FOR DVT?
One may be at an increased risk of developing DVT if one:
- has a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
- has a condition, called thrombophilia, an inherited trait that makes the blood more likely to clot than normal
- has an injury to a deep vein from surgery or trauma
- has prolonged immobility, i.e. sitting or lying for hours without much movement or activity
- travels long distances without much activity or movement of the legs, as in long airplane trips in which one sits without walking or exercising the legs
- is pregnant
- is overweight
- is 60 years old or older
- has certain cancers
HOW CAN DVT BE PREVENTED?
There is no way to absolutely prevent deep vein thrombosis, however one can drastically decrease one’s risk of developing the condition by taking the following precautionary steps:
- exercise the leg muscles during long trips, especially the calves of the legs, by in- place exercises, and taking breaks to walk
- keeping well hydrated
- wear compression stockings to improve circulation; good graduated compression stockings augment the emptying of the veins and prevent stagnation of the blood in the leg veins
- get up and walk soon after surgery (early ambulation) if recommended by a physician
- take anticoagulation medication in some cases (as in those with recurrent deep vein thrombosis or those with inherited thrombophilia) when recommended by a physician
HOW IS DVT TREATED?
There are several medicines and therapies that can be used to stop the clotting process and prevent the blood clot from getting bigger. In severe cases with extensive clotting of deep veins, the clots can be removed using minimally invasive procedures. Anyone with symptoms of possible DVT should seek medical help as soon as possible.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?
To schedule an appointment with Dallas Vein Specialists, please call (214) 221-9222 today.