The circulatory system is responsible for many essential bodily functions which are needed for a human to survive. The heart together with the arteries and veins pump and transport oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the different organs that need it.
In order to picture this system more accurately, try to imagine a one-way highway where blood travels to deliver hormones and nutrients to the cell. A sudden roadblock in this intricate highway will surely cause many problems. Blood clots can often develop in the veins, and this condition is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of DVT and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT happens when a blood clot (or a thrombus) develops in one of the deep veins in the body. Deep veins are often found in the lower extremities of the body like the calf or the leg.
Blood clots that cause DVT usually occur from injury that causes direct damage to the vein, or when there’s not enough blood flow within a vein. However, anything can prevent your blood from properly clotting. DVT can also happen to people who just had surgery or those who have limited movement.
What Puts Me At Risk of DVT?
There are many factors that can affect the way blood flows in the deep veins, which can lead to a blood clot. Risk factors of DVT include:
Some people inherit blood-clotting disorders also known as hypercoagulable states. Blood usually clots to help stop blood from flowing out of the body when someone gets injured. However, people with blood-clotting disorders have blood that clots even as it’s travelling throughout the body.
These conditions are usually inherited by genes or acquired through surgery, medical conditions or trauma.
Injury or surgery:
Blood clots can happen because of direct trauma or the veins. Increased risk of DVT is also associated with surgery because of a person’s lack of mobility after going under the knife.
A person required to undergo bed rest or someone who’s paralyzed can be at an increased risk of DVT. Movement or any sort of physical activity strengthens the heart’s capacity to pump blood. Those who are bedridden might not be able to exercise their leg muscles which makes them more at risk of DVT.
Pregnant women are at risk of DVT because the body makes it easier for blood to clot in preparation for the baby’s delivery. Changes in a pregnant woman’s body also cause reduced blood flow to the legs. A woman at any stage of her pregnancy until six months after birth is at risk of DVT. In fact, pregnant women are five times more at risk of DVT than a woman who isn’t pregnant.
DVT can happen to anyone, but older adults 60 years old and above are more at risk.
Those who are overweight or obese are more at risk of DVT because added weight causes increased pressure on the veins in the lower extremities.
Birth control or hormone therapy:
Birth control and hormone therapy are both factors that may increase your risk of DVT because they make it easier for blood to clot.
Smoking can cause a lot of problems for your circulatory system including unwanted blood clots.
Other risk factors associated with an increased risk of DVT include:
- Remaining at a seated position for long periods of time.
- Heart failure which greatly impairs the function of the circulatory system.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
- Family history
Signs and Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Sometimes, DVT may not have any physical symptoms. However, one of the primary symptoms to look out for is swelling in one of your legs or other lower extremities like your calves.
Since DVT usually results from a blood clot in one or more of the deep veins in the body, the following symptoms may start to show in the areas where the blood clot is located:
- Red or discolored skin
- Feeling cramps or aches in particular areas like the thigh or calf
- Warmer skin in the specific areas of the leg
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness
Other symptoms of DVT could be lightheadedness, coughing, or just the sudden feeling of anxiety or uneasiness accompanied by the symptoms mentioned above. If you feel like you have DVT then it’s best to consult a medical professional right away as this condition can lead to serious complications like pulmonary embolism or postphlebitic syndrome.
Treatment for DVT
Doctors may monitor a blood clot before treating it. Initially, doctors will treat DVT by attempting to stop its growth. Treatment for DVT also prioritizes keeping the clot in its place to avoid pulmonary embolism which can occur when the blood clot migrates to the lungs through the bloodstream.
Treatments for DVT are the following:
- Anticoagulants or blood thinners which affects your blood’s ability to clot.
- Thrombocin inhibitors which prevents clot formation.
- Thrombolytics which can dissolve bigger clots.
- Vena Cava filter which catches blood clots so they don’t enter the lungs.
- Compression stockings to combat swelling in the legs.
Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to DVT. Here are some things you can do to prevent DVT:
- Stay active. This is especially important for those who just got out of surgery. Walking around for a bit even if you’re just working will help prevent blood clots.
- Watch your weight. Being overweight puts you at risk of many cardiovascular diseases including DVT. This also means striving to eat cleaner and healthier food.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually located in the legs, calves, or thighs. If you have DVT, a blood clot must be closely monitored and treated to prevent pulmonary embolism, which can be life threatening. Prevention of DVT includes making healthy lifestyle choices and staying active.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.