Deep Vein Thrombosis
What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?
Deep venous thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in a vein that is deep inside a part of the body. Most cases of DVT affect the legs, but DVT in the upper body is becoming more commonly recognized.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms you feel can depend on the location and size of your blood clot. They include swelling, tenderness, leg pain that may worsen when you walk or stand, a sensation of warmth, and skin that turns blue or red depending on area involved.
What causes DVT?
When something goes wrong with your body's blood clotting system, DVT can occur. Often, poor blood flow, or stagnation of blood flow, in your leg veins increases the risk for DVT.
Some specific causes of DVT include:
- Major surgery on your hip, knee, leg, calf, abdomen, or chest
- A broken hip or leg
- Prolonged travel without changes in position
- Inherited blood clotting abnormalities
What are the possible complications?
DVT can be dangerous because it can cause pulmonary embolism which is a medical emergency. In this condition, a blood clot breaks free from your deep veins, travels through your bloodstream, and lodges in your lungs leading to severe pulmonary complications. Some people may have long-term pain and swelling in the leg known as post-phlebitic syndrome.
How is DVT treated?
Your doctor will give you medicine to thin your blood (called an anticoagulant). This will keep more clots from forming or old ones from getting bigger. These drugs generally will not dissolve existing clots. Rarely, surgery may be required. Some people must take anticoagulant for an extended period, depending on their risk for another clot.
How can DVT be prevented?
- Doctors may prescribe blood thinners to help prevent DVT in people at high risk, or those who are undergoing high-risk surgery.
- Wear the pressure stockings if prescribed by your doctor.
- Moving your legs often during long plane or car trips.
- Quit smoking
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