Symptoms and causes of deep vein thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in your veins. In DVT, the clot forms in one of the deeper veins, and it occurs in your legs. DVT can cause pain and cramps in your leg, but it could also lead to a life-threatening condition called Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
What are the risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Blood clots can occur for various reasons – injury, certain medical conditions, surgery, etc. The risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis are:
- A Family History of DVT: If other members of your family have been affected by DVT or Pulmonary Embolism, you are at risk for getting this disease.
- Being Overweight: Your weight exerts more pressure on the veins in your legs and the pelvis. This increases the chances of a blood clot forming in your veins.
- Injury: Certain injuries like a fracture that causes damage to the veins, can also raise the chances of developing a blood clot.
- Surgery: Surgery, especially leg surgery like a joint replacement procedure, can lead to the formation of blood clots in some patients.
- Pregnancy: When you are pregnant, the uterus expands, and this affects the normal speed of blood flow. Slow circulation can be a risk factor for the formation of blood clots.
- Age: If you are over 60, the chances for DVT increases, especially if you have another risk factor.
- Heart Failure: A heart that is not functioning properly has problems pumping blood and keeping it circulating normally. So this is also a risk factor for DVT.
- Long Bed Rest or Frequent Travel: If you remain seated for long hours while traveling in a car or plane, or you were bedridden for a long time due to an illness – these also increase the chances for DVT. When you do not move your legs for long, your calf muscles are not exercised properly. Regular leg movements make your calf muscles contract, which helps to keep the blood moving. If this doesn’t happen often enough, the affected circulation can cause a blood clot.
- Other Factors: Contraceptives, hormone replacement medications, and smoking can all raise the chances for irregular blood flow and blood clot formation.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms
We have looked at the possible causes of DVT. However, what is the main Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms? Early diagnosis can help prevent complications. It is estimated that around 300,000 to 600,000 people are affected by DVT in the United States. Unfortunately, not everyone who has Deep Vein Thrombosis shows any outward Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms of the condition. Even among those who display any Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms, these signs can be mistaken for normal leg pain or other medical conditions. The Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms legs that could indicate you may have a blood clot in your veins include:
- Sudden onset of pain in your legs
- Swelling in your leg
- The swelling can affect your ankle, foot, or leg
- Tenderness and warmth in the affected area
- Usually, the symptoms deep vein thrombosis leg show up only in one leg; though sometimes, swelling and pain can occur in both legs
- You can easily observe the veins in the affected region
- Skin in the area can become red or discolored
- Pain, when you walk or, stand
- Tiredness in your legs
- Cramps in your leg that usually begin in the calf region
As you can see, in Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms, legs are the organs which are the most affected. If the pain and swelling persist and even get worse with time, see your doctor. If you ignore these symptoms, or even if you don’t show any Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms, if a blood clot is present in your leg, it could break away and travel up to your lungs, resulting in Pulmonary Embolism. Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Severe dizziness
If you display these symptoms, it is time to seek immediate medical help.
The doctor will study your symptoms – Deep Vein Thrombosis. Legs will be examined for signs of the condition, and the doctor may decide to conduct some tests to determine whether the symptoms indicate DVT or some other disorder.
- Ultrasound Test: This is a non-invasive test; your leg will be covered with a warm gel, and sound waves would be transmitted over the affected region. This helps form an ultrasound image of the region, letting the doctor see your blood vessels and spot a blood clot. If the blood clot is in your outer or superficial veins, the condition is not serious. If the blood clot is in your inner veins, this test may not always be successful in showing it.
- Venography: This involves injecting a dye into a vein, located on your foot. This can help highlight a blood clot.
- MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be a more reliable way to identify Deep Vein Thrombosis. As you will be lying down on a table that slides into the MRI machine, both legs can be examined at once, and the clear pictures formed can show up any clots in your blood vessels.
If DVT is confirmed, you may have to take a thinning blood medication like warfarin to prevent further clotting and to keep the clot already present in your vein under control and see that it does not get bigger. Some patients might need surgical procedures to prevent the blood clot from causing Pulmonary Embolism effectively.
The blood clot can disappear and then reappear again. So, if you are diagnosed with DVT or you are at risk of the condition, make sure to stay active, lose a few pounds if you are overweight, stop smoking, and exercise your legs to prevent the formation of blood clots.