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Knowing the Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis Can Save Your Life

Written by Courteney

Posted on February 5, 2017 at 1:01 am

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is an acute, potentially dangerous condition whereby a blood clot abnormally forms in a vein found deep within the body, such as a major vein running through a leg or arm. They can also develop in other areas such as the groin or brain, but occur most commonly in the leg. The CDC estimates that approximately 900,000 Americans develop DVT annually, causing between 60,000 and 100,000 deaths each year. DVT can travel to the lung, leading to a life-threatening complication called a pulmonary embolism (PE) if it is not effectively treated in a timely manner.

Signs and Symptoms of DVT

  1. Persistent, worsening pain or tenderness in one of your legs (or arms)
  2. Swelling of the area (often leg swelling goes the length of your leg, right to your ankle)
  3. Warmth and redness or discoloration (particularly behind the knee)
  4. Leg cramps or trouble straightening the leg
  5. Worsening of pain when bending your foot in the direction of your knee (or bending the arm if the DVT is located in an arm vein).

Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when the blood clot dislodges itself from the deep vein and travels through the system, reaching the blood vessels in a lung. It is important that you seek emergency medical treatment if you have DVT and suddenly experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate or hyperventilation
  • Sudden heavy perspiration
  • Sudden piercing chest pain that worsens when breathing in or exerting pressure (sneezing or coughing)
  • Signs of shock
  • A cough that produces blood or red-colored sputum
  • Syncope (fainting)

Other Potential Complications of DVT

Aside from the most serious complication (PE), other complications may include: an increased risk of developing another DVT in the future or post-thrombotic syndrome (long term symptoms in the affected area such as pain or tenderness). It is important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctor after going through DVT, to help minimize or catch any future consequences of the condition.

What Causes DVT?

There are many potential causes of deep vein thrombosis, but sometimes the cause is unknown. Some factors that increase a person’s risk of developing the condition include: a genetic predisposition, certain medications, pregnancy, obesity, smoking, being sedentary for long periods of time without moving enough to circulate the blood, injury or surgery or an abnormal immune response.

Treatment For DVT

There are different treatments and therapies for DVT, but the most common course of action includes medications called anticoagulants which thin the blood and slow or stop the clot’s growth. The clot will slowly go away with time, but some medications help prevent it from changing or moving to another area of the body such as the lungs. Often people are given injectable forms of blood thinners (such as Warfarin) for months after the initial clot. Patients may find the progress is slow. They may have swelling, discoloration and pain for a long time after the initial episode. Even though exercise is painful, it is of utmost importance that the person remain as active as the doctor suggests to help the clot pass more quickly and not get worse.

Prevention: The Best DVT Medicine 

Blood clots often develop because a person remains sedentary for long periods of time (such as sitting for a 12-hour plane flight) and doesn’t get enough circulation of the blood. Getting regular exercise (even standing to stretch every once in a while) will help lower your chances. Losing weight if you are obese and making other healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking will also serve as good preventative measures.

If you are experiencing some of the above-mentioned symptoms, seek medical treatment soon. Thanks for visiting DocChat!



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