What is Deep Vein Thrombosis(DVT) ?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside a muscle in your body. It usually happens in legs but can also develop in your arms, chest, or other areas of your body. And though DVT is not extremely common, it can be dangerous. The blood clot can block your circulation or lodge in a blood vessel in your lungs, heart, or other area. The clot can cause severe organ damage and even death within hours.
What are the Symptoms ?
Only about half of the people with DVT have signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms can include swelling or redness, and the skin may feel warm to the touch. This can be a very painful and potentially life-threatening condition and it is important to see your physician right away if you have signs or symptoms of DVT.
Who is at Risk ?
There are many risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis ranging from circulation issues to heart failure. Risk can also include a family history of blood clots or Thrombophilia. Thrombophilia is an inherited condition which makes it so that the blood clots too easily. There is also a higher risk for those who suffer from certain medical conditions, which include but are not limited to: Being older than 60, lung disease, heart disease, smoking, being overweight ,and inflammatory bowel disease. Your risk for DVT increases if you have more thatn one of these risk factors and it is estimated that around two million Americans are victims of DVT every year.
What Causes DVT ?
Blood clots most commonly form after a recent injury to the blood vessel. Blood clots can also occur when there is a change in blood circulation. Prevention of future Deep Vein Thrombosis is possible. Lack of movement, such as prolonged sitting or laying, can cause lack of blood circulation and can lead to clots. Movement is the key! Especially in the legs, where the risk is so much higher for DVT to occur.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medications to help with blood clots in an effort to help with current (or to prevent future) Deep Vein Thrombosis. Medications that can be prescribed to help are known as anticoagulants, of which the most common is Coumadin. Coumadin is the brand name for warfarin which is used to decrease the clotting tendencies of your blood and decrease the risk of a clot forming. Patients can measure how quickly their blood is clotting with a home INR testing monitor and have their results sent to their doctor.
A blood clot in a deep vein can break off and travel through the bloodstream. The loose clot is called an embolus. It can travel to an artery in the lungs and block blood flow. This condition is called pulmonary embolism or PE and can cause damage to the lungs, other organs, and even lead to death.
For More Info on DVT:
Deep Vein Thrombosis ( NHLBI Health Topics + Videos)
Deep Vein Thrombosis ( Medline Plus)
Clinical Trials (ClinicalTrials.Org)
Past Articles on DVT:
Air Travel and DVT
DVT and PE: Your Questions Answered