Deep vein thrombosis

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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.

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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