Deep vein thrombosis
(DVT) is a blood clot located within a deep vein. DVT usually occurs in the thigh or calf, and the restricted blood flow often causes pain and swelling (although symptoms occur in only about fifty percent of cases).
Clots can break free and damage other blood vessels and organs. When a clot travels to the heart or lungs it can cause untimely death. This life-threatening condition is known as pulmonary embolism, and symptom include coughing of blood, dizziness, shortness of breath, and various levels of pain.
DVT is often hard to diagnose as it has many similarities to other health issues. Typical symptoms include:
- Increased warmth in the affected area
- Pain or tenderness in the leg (which may only occur when you stand up)
- Red or discolored skin
- Swelling in the affected area
If you smoke, have a sedentary job, are overweight, or over 60 years of age, then you have an increased risk of developing DVT.
However, very health people can also be at risk of DVT, as a number of everyday events can increase the likelihood of blood clots forming:
- Taking birth control
- Receiving hormone therapy
- Pregnancy (and the first six weeks after giving birth)
- Breaking a bone
- Traveling on an airplane or in a car for a long period of time
- Being bedridden for an extended period of time
In order to diagnose DVT, our providers will perform a physical examination and ask you questions about your medical history.
Ultrasound with x-ray imaging can detect blood clots, the test being pain-free. Our providers may also recommend venography, in which dye is injected into the veins to help identify clots.
Newly formed clots are treated with blood thinners. Clots can also be broken down and removed via a process known as thrombolysis.
There are simple steps you can take to help prevent DVT:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise or stretch regularly (especially during long trips)
- See a vascular health care provider for regular checkups all the options open to you