A blood clot in the vein is known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). When clots form in deep veins, the condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If the clot breaks, it travels through the bloodstream to the lungs and causes a pulmonary embolism (PE). If it travels to the heart, it causes a heart attack. Both these conditions are life-threatening and require emergency medical attention.
Could You Be at Risk of DVT? Let us see
The risk of DVT increases with the following:
- Age – people above 60 years of age are at risk
- Past history of DVT
- A strong family history (genetic cause)
- Heart failure
- Varicose veins
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Contraceptive pills (birth control pills) use
- Injury to a vein due to fracture, surgery and muscle injury
Some temporary situations can also put you at risk of DVT – including the following:
- The hospital stay after the operation (post-operative stay in the hospital).
- Long-term bed rest
- Confinement to the bed
- Less activity and movements
- Sitting for a long time
- A long journey by train, plane, bus or car
What are the symptoms of DVT?
The symptoms of DVT include the following:
- Cramping or throbbing leg pain (in the thigh or calf) in one or both the legs
- Swelling in one or both the legs
- Swollen, sore and hard veins to touch
- Dark red skin around the painful area
- Apart from the legs, the symptoms can also be possible in the arms or tummy if the blood clot presents there.
What are the symptoms of Pulmonary embolism (PE)?
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Chest discomfort or severe chest pain becomes worse when you cough or take a deep breath.
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Coughing up blood
How is DVT Diagnosed?
A general physician will refer you to a hospital if he or she suspects that you may have DVT after an ultrasound scan. The scan shows obstruction in the blood flow through the vein. Further tests including a venogram (X-ray of the vein) may also be recommended. Imaging tests are helpful for the diagnosis of DVT or PE. D-dimer blood test, MRI, CT and duplex ultrasonography are the other tests that are helpful in the diagnosis of DVT.
Pulmonary angiography (PA) is the most accurate test for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE). A special X-ray test called computed tomographic pulmonary angiography [CTPA] that uses contrast dye provides images of the blood vessels in the lungs. It is a standard imaging test for PE.
Undiagnosed, untreated and serious VTE can become life-threatening and lead to disability and death. Though a serious condition, it is preventable if you consult the best doctor. For deep vein thrombosis, immediate medical care is indispensable.
Deep Vein thrombosis Treatment
Anticoagulants: The most common treatment is anticoagulant (blood thinners) medicines. Oral or injectable anticoagulants may be prescribed. The other possible treatment modes may include the use of thrombolytics (clot busters) and inferior vena cava filter. In addition, deep vein thrombosis treatment includes thrombectomy or embolectomy – a surgical procedure is performed to remove the clot.
How to Prevent DVT?
- Be active
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t sit or stand for long
- Get up and move around
- Don’t cross legs while sitting – it can restrict blood flow through the legs.
- Walk regularly
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- To prevent dehydration – drink adequate fluids
- Quit smoking and alcohol