Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
WHAT IS DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body. This clot can partially or completely inhibit the flow of blood through the vein. This is a serious condition that is associated with another name called thromboembolism.
The average DVT happens in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, although they can be found in the arm, brain, intestines, liver, or kidney as well.
While deep vein thrombosis on its own is not necessarily life-threatening, a DVT can break loose and cause a serious life-threatening issue to the lung called a pulmonary embolism if it becomes lodged in the blood vessels of your lung. You should see a doctor right away if you think you have a deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis can also be responsible for chronic venous insufficiency in the legs if it causes blood to pool leading to leg swelling, leg discoloration, or leg ulcers.
Deep vein thrombosis can occur without noticeable symptoms
Vein trauma or damage to the veins can increase an individual’s chances of developing a DVT. Sitting for a long period of time accompanied with certain medications can also increase the chances of occurrences.
CAUSES of DVT
Injury to a vein, surgery, or certain medications can cause damage that prevents blood from circulating or clotting like normal. This will cause a blood clot (thrombus) to form. Clotting can happen for a variety of reasons including:
Damage to the veins that narrow the vessels and block blood flow.
Damage can occur during surgery to the vein walls which can lead to the formation of a blood clot. Little to no movement after surgery can increase the chances of a pulmonary embolism.
Certain medications can increase the chances of a blood clot forming.
An inherited condition can increase your risk of blood clots.
Going long periods without much movement decreases blood flow such as sitting during a long car ride or being immobilized after surgery.
A DVT can happen to just about anybody, but the risk is much greater for those 40 years of age and older.
A DVT is most often diagnosed by means of a duplex ultrasound. This will show the flow of blood through the veins and reveal any blood clots. At Virginia Vein Care, our skilled ultrasound technician will apply pressure while they scan you’re arm or leg. If the vein does not compress from the pressure, this could indicate the presence of a blood clot.
Once diagnosed, medications can be prescribed to deal with the pain and inflammation and clots themselves can be broken up by a physician.
How to Prevent a DVT
Around one-in-three people who have had a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism will have a higher risk of another incident. However, if you haven’t had a deep vein thrombosis before but are at a higher risk of developing one, there are certain steps you can take to lower your chances.
These steps include:
• Getting out of bed after recovering from surgery or illness and moving around to lower the risks of developing a clot
• If you are required to remain still for a long period of time, make sure you exercise your legs at some point. For instance, walk around every 30 minutes on long flights.
• Follow-up with your physician as recommended
If you develop these symptoms, contact your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
Virginia Vein Care can examine you at any of our 3 vein clinic locations. We have offices in McLean and Purcellville, VA and Washington, DC.