Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops in one of the primary veins located deep inside the body that return blood from the extremities to the heart and lungs. Though this condition usually occurs in one of the legs, in rarer cases it can affect the arms.
DVT can lead to potentially fatal condition called pulmonary embolism, in which the clot breaks away, traveling to the heart and lungs.
In almost 50 percent of cases, patients with DVT show absolutely no symptoms. Those that do exhibit symptoms may experience the following:
About half of all DVT cases do not cause symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include:
- Swelling in the affected limb
- Pain, increasing with walking or standing (if DVT is in the leg)
- Limb tenderness or increased warmth
- Discoloration to red or blue tinges
Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Some patients have a single occurrence of DVT, while others have it as a recurring condition. Patients develop clots in these veins for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Bone fractures or other trauma
- Family history of blood clotting
- Remaining immobile for long periods of time
- Surgery, either the incidence of and recovery from
- Vein lining injuries
Other risk factors include age over 50, being overweight, having certain chronic diseases, being pregnant, and/or taking certain medications. DVT can also occur in patients taking long trips by air.
Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis
When treating DVT, physicians not only seek to treat the clot, but also to prevent it from becoming a pulmonary embolism. They also want to prevent clotting episodes in the future. To achieve these treatment goals, they will use either medical or surgical treatment or, in more severe cases, a combination of both.
There are also a variety of actions doctors may instruct patients to do to prevent DVT following surgeries patients may have, even for other conditions unrelated to the condition, such as taking prescribed anticoagulant medications, wearing compression socks, and/or specific exercises. These are also often recommended for at-risk patients taking long flights, particularly the use of compression socks or doing in-flight exercises tailored to those sitting on an airplane.