It’s not being overly-dramatic to say that deep vein thrombosis, often referred to simply as DVT, can put your life at risk. DVT refers to a situation where one or more blood clots form in the body’s deep veins, usually in the legs. The risk comes when these clots travel. They can end up in the lungs, cutting off blood flow to vital areas of the body.
No one is immune to this situation, but some medical conditions make a person more prone to DVT. Smoking, taking birth control pills and hormone replacement medications and being overweight are all risk factors. In addition, sitting or lying down for extended periods of time can promote DVT. That’s why you were compression socks after surgery and are advised to get up and move around periodically during a long plane ride.
Symptoms and Signs of DVT
Symptoms of DVT include:
- Swelling in one leg (usually between the calf and the thigh). Rarely does it occur in both legs at the same time.
- Pain in your leg. It usually starts in the calf and feels like a muscle cramp.
- Red skin on your leg
- A warm feeling in your leg
Why Blood Clots are Dangerous
Blood clots are dangerous because they can break free and travel to essential organs via the circulatory system. The most common place that blood clots travel from the legs is to the lungs. When a blood clot does this, it’s called a pulmonary embolism. This can be a life-threatening situation and requires immediate medical attention. Signs of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Feeling faint or light-headed
- Coughing up blood
Left untreated, a PE can lead to tissue damage in the lungs and even death if the clot blocks blood from reaching the lungs entirely.
DVT differs from an arterial thrombosis, which is a blood clot in an artery. This type of clot can affect the brain, a heart valve or the blood supply to the heart.
How Common is DVT in America
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that DVT and PE are very under-reported conditions. However, they estimate that as many as 900,000 Americans could be affected each year by DVT and that around between 60,000 and 100,000 Americans die each year of this condition.
Treatments for Deep Vein Thrombosis
The good news is that there are several effective treatments for DVT. DVT treatment options include:
- Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners). These are medications that work to prevent clots from forming.
- Compression Stockings & Leg Elevation. For those who are unable to exercise, compression stockings help keep the blood flowing in their extremities.
- Vein Surgery Treatments. In extreme cases, where other treatments have failed to restore good circulation, surgery may be an option. During deep vein surgery, the surgeon will make a small incision in the vein and remove the offending clot. This is usually only performed for especially large clots.
Siragusa’s Vein Clinic in Nashville TN
Our Nashville clinic specializes in vein and arterial diseases and conditions, including DVT. We invite you to meet our vein physician in Nashville. For more information and to schedule a consult, contact us at (insert contact info).