Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), also referred to as Deep Venous Thrombosis, is a blood clot located within a deep vein, usually in the leg. A blood clot that breaks free and travels up to the heart or lungs is referred to as a Pulmonary Embolism (PE), which can stop blood flow and cause sudden death. The CDC estimates up to 100,000 Americans die every year from preventable DVT/PE
In addition, Deep Vein Thrombosis blood clots in the leg can permanently damage veins. The result in 50% of DVT survivors is Chronic Venous Insufficiency which results in long-term leg pain, heaviness and swelling that can progress to difficulty in walking, changes in skin color and open leg sores (known as leg ulcers). Deep Venous Thrombosis can significantly impair quality of life.
Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Many patients ask us, "can varicose veins cause blood clots?" According to a recent study, 5% of patients diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency, compared to the general population, are at risk for DVT. There is a distinct increased risk for patients over 70-years-old and obese. There are several factors known to contribute to the risk of DVT although a blood clot can occur in almost anyone.
Lack of Exercise
Pregnancy or Recent Birth
Recent Surgery or Hospitalization
Prolonged Sitting (Airplane Travel)
Extended Bed Rest
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Increased warmth in the affected area
Pain or tenderness in the leg, ankle or foot
Red or discolored skin
Swelling in the affected area
Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis
The absolute best way to diagnose Deep Venous Thrombosis is with a Full Vein Exam and Duplex Ultrasound. A medical clinic with an experienced vein specialist should be able to get you in the same day for diagnosis if you have any concern about blood clots in your legs. Treatment and prevention will be accomplished in several ways depending on the patient risk factors and severity but usually starts with blood thinning medication.
Prescription compression stockings are a common preventative measure as are range of motion exercises, treating underlying blood disorders and vein therapy for Chronic Venous Insufficiency. An experienced vein doctor can discuss all treatment options with you after proper diagnosis from a Full Vein Exam and Duplex Ultrasound.