Deep vein thrombosis is simply a blood clot that develops in the deep veins of the leg. This condition puts an individual at high risk for pulmonary embolism. This occurs once a clot detaches from the interior of the vein and lodges into the pulmonary artery. If the clot is big enough, it can fully block the artery and result to death.
The flow of blood through the veins in the legs generally necessitate some mechanical assistance since it flows upwards. The calf muscles function as a pump. The contracting muscles press the veins and drive the blood in the veins up to the heart. This mechanism is aided by the valves in the veins which direct the blood flow and counteract the effects of gravity.
Any factor that slows down the course of blood via the deep veins can cause deep vein thrombosis. These factors include surgery, injury or prolonged periods of lying or sitting.
What are the risk factors?
Some of the risk factors that might contribute to the formation of a blood clot include the following:
- Overweight or obese
- Coronary heart disease
- Cigarette smoking
- Hormone therapy
- Blood clotting disorders
- Previous thrombosis
- Using a high dosage combined oral contraceptive
- Chronic heart failure
- Prolonged periods of being seated
- Certain forms of cancer
- Susceptibility to have “stickier” blood and family history of DVT
- Recent injury or surgery
What are the indications?
The indications of deep vein thrombosis include the following:
- Tenderness and pain in the leg
- Skin that is warm or reddened
- Pain that radiates to the foot
- Swelling of the ankle, lower leg and foot
The treatment for deep vein thrombosis usually involves hospitalization of the individual. Intravenous medications are given to dissolve the clot.
As for long-term treatment, it includes anticoagulants such as warfarin to minimize further clotting. Blood tests are also done to monitor the “stickiness” of the blood. Additionally, reducing the risk factors such as cessation of smoking or cutting down weight might be recommended.