What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clotting disorder in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually affecting the legs. DVT can occur when a person sits or stands for long periods of time, when there is an injury or illness which affects the veins, or when following certain medical treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy. The primary risk factor for DVT is age. In some cases, DVT can be fatal if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT can be caused by a variety of factors. Situations that increase pressure in the veins or cause blood flow to slow are the most common:
- Long periods of sitting or standing without moving, such as on a long airplane flight or during a long car ride
- Recent surgery or injury
- High levels of estrogen, such as during pregnancy or when using certain medicines
- Cancer and cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
- Being overweight or obese
- Certain genetic blood clotting disorders
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
The signs and symptoms of DVT can include:
- Pain, tenderness, or aching in the affected area
- Redness, warmth, or swelling in the affected area
- Unusual, discolored patches on the skin
- A feeling that the affected area is tight or full
Not everyone with DVT will experience these symptoms, and some of the symptoms may not be directly related to DVT. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Treatment for DVT depends on the severity and extent of the blood clot. Commonly prescribed treatments include blood thinners, compression stockings, and leg exercises. These treatments are intended to reduce swelling, help prevent further clots from forming, and eventually dissolve the existing clot. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the clot and prevent further complications.
Health Implications of Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT can have serious health implications if left untreated. A blood clot in the veins can result in decreased blood flow to the affected area, swelling, and pain. In severe cases, the clot could travel to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening. Some people with DVT may also be at risk for long-term complications such as chronic leg swelling, skin sores, and leg discoloration.
If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of DVT, it is important to see your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to minimize the risk of serious health complications.