Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a severe medical condition, where a blood clot or thrombus forms in one or more of the veins located deep inside the body. Although the blood clots can happen anywhere in the body, it is typically seen in the veins of the pelvis, thigh or lower leg. The thrombus formation can be fatal as in certain cases, it can break free from the deep vein, travel through the bloodstream and ultimately end up in the lungs, where it can block proper blood flow causing pulmonary embolism, post-phlebitic syndrome or post-thrombotic syndrome. Also read: Blood Thinners Prevent Pulmonary Embolism
Deep Vein Thrombosis is often aggravated due to severe heart problems, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, trauma, cancer, varicose veins, recent surgeries, broken hip or leg due to some accident, lack of proper movement or complete bed rest, birth control medications, pregnancy and smoking. Certain genetic factors include inherited blood disorders which arise due to deficiency of the protein C, protein S, antithrombin, and factor V Leiden mutation also increases the risk of this condition. DVT can also occur due to chest pain while deep inhalation, shortness of breath, coughing up blood or increased heart rate.
Although many people suffer from DVT, the symptoms occur only in half the population, which usually includes:
- Swelling in your foot, ankle, or leg,
- Severe pain in the foot or ankle
- Feel of warmth in the affected leg or part
- Reddish or bluish colouration of the skin over the affected area
In certain cases, a worsening of DVT can lead to Pulmonary Embolism causing:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pleurisy
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid pulse
- Neck and shoulder pain
Diagnosis and Treatment
Once you notice any of the symptoms or are at risk of having DVT, it is recommended to consult a doctor to prevent deterioration. The doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up by inspecting any kind of skin discolouration or swelling at different parts of the body followed by some tests which include:
- Ultrasound Doppler study,
- Blood test such as the D-dimer test
- Imaging techniques like CT scan and MRI Scan
Treatment for DVT usually involves protective measures to reduce the size of the clot and prevent them from growing and leading towards pulmonary embolism. Once the size of the clot is noticeably reduced, the doctor generally includes treatment to prevent the reoccurrence of deep vein thrombosis. Usual treatment options include:
Blood thinners – Anticoagulants to dissolve the clot. Also Read: 5 Natural Blood Thinners That May Prevent Stroke
- Clot Busters – Thrombolytics injected through IV to break up clots.
- Compression Stockings – To prevent swelling in the affected part.
- Filters – Filters inserted in the deep veins to prevent blood clots to break loose and reach the lungs.