10 Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Facts

deep vein thrombosis dvt
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There are two classifications of the veins found in the human body in terms of closeness to the surface of the body: the superficial vein and the deep vein.

The superficial vein can be easily traced, unlike the deep vein which is located deep in the body.

The deep venous system is a common site for the development of blood clots (also called thrombosis) which can be a really serious condition. These clots are usually regarded to cause complications.

An example of resulting disorder is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). But what is DVT? We’ll find more about it in this post.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

DVT refers to the development of blood thrombi/clots in the deep venous system. The most commonly affected deep venous veins are found in the thighs and legs.

The presence of clots can partially or fully hinder blood that flows through the blood vessels. Typically, deep vein thrombosis causes a build up of blood in large amount behind the clot and in time, it damages the vein leading into what is referred as post thrombotic syndrome (PST).

PST is chronic and may include: sores on the affected leg, pain, and even discoloration or redness of the skin.

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Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) Facts

1. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Symptoms

Long term experience of DVT can every so often prove to be dangerous. Normally, physicians recommend individuals to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of DVT.

This is usually meant to assist individuals by instilling knowledge on the safety precautions related to the disease. 

According to some studies, half of individuals experiencing DVT have no clear symptoms. However, some of the most common DVT symptoms include: swollen ankle, redness of the skin, patches of warm skin on the foot, and an enlargement of surface veins near the affected area.

dvt deep vein thrombosis symptoms

2. Risk factors for DVT

Generally, DVT is dependent on certain risk factors. The chances of developing the condition can increase drastically for people with more than one of these risk factors.

Some of the risk factors that can lead to the development of DVT include: an injury to the vein, which may be caused by a fracture; severe muscle injury; major surgery involving the hip, the leg, or the pelvis.

Slow blood flow is also another causative factor for DVT. Slow blood flow can be a result of paralysis or limited movement by the individual.

Other causes may include some chronic illnesses, family history of DVT, obesity, and catheter located in the central vein.

dvt deep vein thrombosis risk

3. Diagnosis

There are certain tests available that can be used to diagnose DVT. These tests include: history and physical exam, ultrasound, venography tests, and blood tests.

History and physical exam refer to tests that look for physical signs of blood clots and present risk factors.

The Ultrasound test on the other hand utilizes sound properties with technology to create images of body organs.

Venography involves an injection on the leg or the thigh containing a certain die and studying it with an x-ray. This test is usually done when the suspected location of the clot is far from reach with the use of ultrasound.

With blood tests as a means of diagnostic examination, the presence of a substance in the blood that comes from dissolved blood clots is measured to identify DVT.

dvt deep vein thrombosis diagnosis

4. Treatment of DVT

Usual objectives in the treatment of DVT include: stopping new clot formation, prevention of embolism, prevention of another possibility of DVT occurrence, and prevention of long term complication.

Normally, the treatment of the condition is dependent on its severity. Some of the treatment options available include: anticoagulant medication, thrombolytic medication, vena cava filter treatment, angioplasty treatment and graduated compression stockings treatment.

Anticoagulant medication is normally a first step towards treatment of the condition. This medication is aimed at stopping the blood from clotting. However, previous or any existing blood clots will be left unaffected. The use of the medication may last up to six months.

The treatment option known as Thrombolytic Therapy, involves the breaking up of the thrombus in the vein. In this case, a drug is introduced into the vein that contains the blood clot (by injection) with the assistance of a catheter.

In vena cava filters treatment, it involves the placement of a mesh into one of the large abdominal veins (the inferior vena cava) with the aid of a catheter. The aim of this treatment method is usually intended at preventing blood clots from being pumped to the lungs.

Another treatment method is angioplasty which involves the surgical repair of the veins for people with post thrombotic syndrome (PST).

The last in the list but very common treatment option is the use of graduated compression stockings. It is a treatment method that employs the use of slight pressure with a specialized stocking on the lower part of the leg to promote circulation and prevent clotting. You can get compression socks here.

dvt deep vein thrombosis treatment

5. Avoiding/ Preventing DVT

Preventive measures to avoid the development of DVT involve embracing a healthy lifestyle.

For instance, health experts recommend that individuals should reduce or stop smoking cigarette and drinking alcohol as they contribute significantly to the condition.

Maintaining healthy weight levels is also another way to prevent the contraction of DVT.

Health experts also recommend individuals to walk around for two to three hours after long periods of sitting or travelling.

The person is also required to maintain certain sitting positions and practices. For example, the individual is instructed to raise and lower his/her heels while keeping his/her toes on the floor. He/she should also raise his/her toes while keeping his/her heels on the floor.

Tightening and releasing of leg muscle is also among some exercise recommendations.

Another prevention method includes putting-on loose fitting clothes.

6. Complications

Many patients with DVT are usually faced with the risk of developing reflux (abnormal reverse) flow.

Reflux occurs when the blood clot in the veins are absorbed into the body and therefore, damaging the deep blood veins. Prolonged occasion of reflux always leads to high pressure in the veins around the lower calf and the ankle which in turn leads to leg ulcers and chronic venous inefficiency.

Nearly a half of the patients experience this condition.

dvt deep vein thrombosis complications

7. Connection of DVT to pulmonary embolism (PE)

Pulmonary embolism is the most serious complication of DVT. PE occurs when all or part of a DVT clot disintegrates and travels to the lungs.

In many cases, it clogs the veins in the lungs, preventing blood flow to the lungs. This will certainly be fatal for it leads to insufficient oxygen to organs in the body.

dvt deep vein thrombosis pe

8. Prevalence of DVT

According to research by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that half of the people with DVT, are bound to develop post thrombotic syndrome.

Post thrombotic syndrome is a long-term complication characterized by swelling, pain, and discoloration. The research also maintains that about one third of the people with DVT have a high probability of displaying a recurrence within a period of not less than 10 years.

dvt deep vein thrombosis prevalence

9. Same factors different conditions

Although superficial and deep veins are positioned differently in the body, it has been ascertained that some factors that can lead to DVT can as well cause superficial thrombosis.

Though the condition may make you feel uncomfortable, superficial thrombosis poses no serious medical concern compared to DVT.

dvt deep vein thrombosis superficial

10. Economy Class Syndrome

The syndrome is termed based on the high rate of individuals who developed DVT following a long flight (over 14 hours).

A recent study shows that there is a 12 percent increase in the probability of contracting the disorder among passengers flying on long haul compared to those who do not.

Doctors maintain that the risk of dying as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident is 100 times more probable than dying from DVT or PE as a passenger in a long haul flight.

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Updated: October 18, 2018

About the Author:

Melissa Gomez, RN, MSN is a board certified nurse and has been a contributing writer for the past five years. Ms. Gomez has a special focus on platelet-related illness prevention and health promotion.

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