Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is defined as a blood clot which arises in a vein positioned deep within the body. In most cases, a clot might partly or fully obstruct the flow of blood via a vein. Most cases develop in the lower part of the leg, pelvis or thigh but might also form in other body parts including the brain, arm, liver, intestines or kidney.

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What are the symptoms?

Deep vein thrombosis typically forms in one leg or arm. Not all those who have DVT will experience any symptoms, but can include:

  • Swelling of the leg or arm that occurs abruptly
  • Tenderness or pain in the leg that might only occur while walking or standing
  • Site in the arm or leg that is swollen or sore might be warmer than usual
  • Reddened or discolored skin
  • Veins close to the skin surface might be bigger than normal

What are the possible causes?

Certain conditions can increase the risk for deep vein thrombosis such as:

  • A genetic condition that increases the risk for blood clot formation
  • Cancer and some of its treatment options such as chemotherapy
  • Reduced flow of blood in a deep vein from injuries, immobilization or surgery
  • Prolonged periods of inactivity that lowers the blood flow such as being seated for long hours while travelling or immobility after a serious injury or surgery.
    Deep vein thrombosis
    Tenderness or pain in the leg that might only occur while walking or standing.
  • Pregnancy and the initial 6 weeks after birth
  • Being overweight
  • Over the age of 40
  • Using birth control pills or hormonal therapy
  • Presence of a pacemaker or central venous catheter

Management of deep vein thrombosis

An individual with deep vein thrombosis require treatment in a healthcare facility. The treatment options generally include compression stockings, medications and elevation of the affected leg.

In case a blood clot is widespread, it requires invasive tests and management. The main objectives of treatment include:

  • Preventing the blood clot from growing bigger
  • Preventing the breakage of the clot in the vein and travelling into the lungs
  • Lowering the risk for another clot
  • Prevention of long-standing complications from a clot

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