Have Questions About Deep Vein Thrombosis? There Are Answers

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) Is a fairly common occurrence featuring blood clots. These clots form in vines located deeper in the body’s various tissues.  Most frequently, DVT occurs in the legs, thighs or pelvis. However, it’s also possible for it to occur in any part of the body including the brain, kidneys, liver or intestines. Deep vein thrombosis differs from superficial vein problems in that they are more likely to break off and migrate through the body. These clots can partially or completely block blood flow in internal organs, leading to a life-threatening situation. Individuals may not always have symptoms that can alert them to an imminent vein problem. Deep vein thrombosis can also cause chronic venous insufficiency. DVT most often develops in individuals over the age of 40, but it can occur at any age. Once you have developed a deep vein thrombosis, you may be more likely to have them again. Proper medical treatment can help to prevent deep vein thrombosis problems.

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The Five Big Questions About Deep Vein Thrombosis

1: What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?

A: A number of factors can increase the risk for deep vein thrombosis. If you have a family history of this condition, your risk is greater to develop it yourself. If you sit for long periods for work or for travel, you may be at higher risk. If you are overweight, your risk for DVT increases. Pregnancy and the period immediately after birth are high-risk conditions for DVT. Injury to veins deep within tissues during surgery or immobility due to recovery can increase risk. Birth control pills and hormone therapy can increase your risk. Cancer, chemotherapy and having a pacemaker can increase the risk for DVT as well. 

2: How Is Deep Vein Thrombosis Diagnosed?

A: The doctor will take a medical history to determine if you have a family history of vein disorders. Your physician may order a number of tests to diagnose suspected deep vein thrombosis. Duplex venous ultrasound may be done to determine blood flow in the area. Venography is a type of x-ray to detect blockages. MRI venography provides more detailed images of the condition of veins. CT scans can also be used to detect blockages caused by clotting in veins.

3: Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Cause Complications?

A: Deep vein thrombosis can lead to a pulmonary embolism when a clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a blockage in the blood flow. Clots from DVT can also cause postphlebitic syndrome, with pain, swelling and skin sores. You may also develop a problem with the blood thinners that are often prescribed for deep vein thrombosis. Your doctor will carefully monitor you using blood tests to ensure that you are getting the appropriate amount of medication.

4: What Are the Treatments For Deep Vein Thrombosis?

A: A variety of treatments are available to prevent the clots from getting bigger and to prevent clots from breaking off and traveling through the bloodstream. Treatments also help to keep chronic venous insufficiency from increasing your risk of DVT. Effective treatment will also help to reduce your risk for another clot, if you have had one previously. Several medications are used for this treatment. Your doctor may advise you to wear compression stockings routinely. Elevating the affected area may be necessary. For severe clotting, you may need additional testing, surgery or other procedures.

5: How Can People Try to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis?

A: You can help to avoid deep vein thrombosis events by exercising your lower legs on long flights or car rides. Get out of bed and walking are important measures to take after surgery or an illness, to help reduce DVT risk. Compression stockings can be helpful in avoiding deep vein problems. If you are at risk, talk to your doctor about your risk for deep vein thrombosis and take prescribed medications as directed. Attend all follow-up testing and appointments with your doctor. If you are among those at risk for deep vein thrombosis, you can implement a number of proactive measures to prevent this problem. At the first sign of symptoms, consult your physician for appropriate care that can help you avoid complications from this condition.