DVT: More deadly than AIDS and breast cancer combinedWhat is DVT? Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually your legs. This can cause leg pain, but often occurs without any symptoms.
By: By Mary Krueger, senior liaison, Alexandria Echo Press
What is DVT? Deep vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually your legs. This can cause leg pain, but often occurs without any symptoms.
DVT is a serious condition, because a blood clot that has formed in your vein can break loose and travel to your lungs.
Risk factors for DVT may include:
Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying. When your legs remain still for long periods, your calf muscles don’t contract, which helps blood circulate. Blood clots can form in the calves of your legs if your calf muscles aren’t moving.
Inheriting a blood-clotting disorder.
Prolonged bed rest, such as during a hospital stay or paralysis. Again, your calf muscles don’t contract to help blood circulate.
Pregnancy increases the pressure in the veins in your pelvis and legs.
Cancer. Some forms of cancer increase the amount of substances in your blood that cause your blood to clot.
Heart failure. People with heart failure are at risk of DVT because a damaged heart doesn’t pump blood as effectively as a normal heart does.
Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can both increase your blood’s ability to clot.
A pacemaker or a catheter in a vein can irritate the blood vessel wall and decrease blood flow.
Being overweight increases the pressure in the veins in your pelvis and legs.
Smoking affects blood clotting and circulation, which can increase your risk of DVT.
In about half of all cases, DVT occurs without any noticeable symptoms. When signs/symptoms do occur, they can include swelling in the affected leg, including swelling of the ankle and foot. There can be pain in the leg, ankle and foot. This pain often starts in your calf and can feel like cramping or a “charley horse.” There can also be redness and warmth over the area.
The primary complication to be concerned with in deep vein thrombosis is a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when an artery in your lung becomes blocked by a blood clot that travels to your lungs from another part of your body, usually your leg. These can be fatal.
It’s important to be on the look out for signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism and seek medical attention if they occur.
Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, coughing up blood, anxiety or nervousness.
DVT treatment options include blood thinners, clotbusters, filters and compression stockings. Contact your doctor immediately if you have any signs of DVT.