What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and How Can it be Managed?
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
A DVT is a blood clot (thrombus) that formed in a deep vein. Although a DVT can occur anywhere in your body, it usually forms in your leg. If a DVT breaks loose and travels to the lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A pulmonary embolism is a very serious condition and often fatal. Diagnosis and treatment of a DVT is meant to prevent PE. Symptoms of PE include shortness of breath, pain in the chest and rapid heartbeat. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these.
Blood is meant to flow through our bodies. When blood is not being pumped effectively it has a tendency to pool and can form a DVT. Awareness and education of the condition and its risk factors is the best prevention.
What are DVT risk factors?
- Family history of blood clots and vein disease
- Recent surgery
- Sedentary occupations
- Being overweight
- Tobacco use
- Injury with long periods of immobility
To learn more take Dr. Caprini’s DVT Risk Assessment.
How can I tell if I have a DVT?
Unfortunately, DVT is difficult to detect, and is often symptomless. If symptoms occur, they may include:
- Intense pain or cramping in the calves
- Tenderness, swelling and warm legs
- Changes in skin color
If you experience any of the symptoms above, contact a vein specialist for an evaluation immediately.
How do you treat DVT?
- Anticoagulant medications
- Intervention procedures, such as filters
- Clot busters
- At home, you can elevate your legs and take brisk walks
What is Post Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) and How Can it be Managed?
Post Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) is a long-term effect of a DVT. After a while, the DVT can damage the vein wall and valves, which can lead to more pressure in the veins. The increased pressure can cause long-term problems such as fatigue leg pain, heaviness, swelling, skin damage and painful sores (ulcers) near the ankle.
How does Compression Therapy help?
An effective way to keep your legs healthy during long periods of being inactive, such as while flying or recovering from an injury or after surgery is wearing graduated compression stockings. Compression stockings exert a comfortable amount of pressure on the outside of the leg to support the veins and vein valves, which promote blood flow.
If you notice one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend you consult with your primary care provider or a vein specialist and ask about a high quality graduated medical compression stocking or sock. You’ll be glad that you did—and so will your legs!