When blood clots form in a deep vein in the body, typically in the leg, the condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It is potentially fatal and affects as many as 900,000 people in the country every year. And it usually recurs in about 33% of patients within ten years of the treatment. While DVT clots commonly form in the leg, they can also develop in the other parts of the body. Moreover, if such a clot travels and finds its way to the lungs, it leads to pulmonary embolism or PE, a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs.
Causes of deep vein thrombosis
Blood clots are the primary reason for DVT. They can be formed due to the following.
Surgical procedures can sometimes lead to the formation of blood clots. If these are formed in a vein deep within the body, it can develop into DVT.
During a mild or severe accident, blood vessels can get damaged. If left unchecked, the injury can form a blood clot, which can subsequently cause DVT.
Risk factors of deep vein thrombosis
Besides a few common causes, here are some risk factors that increase the probability of developing DVT.
Regular movement is important for blood circulation and overall health. It keeps every cell in check, providing it with the right nutrition and care. Lack of mobility robs the body of this supply, and also makes the movement of blood sluggish. This slow blood flow increases the risk of blood clots, which in turn, raises the possibility of DVT.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that around 5% to 8% of the country’s population has genetic defects that increase the risk of thrombosis. Furthermore, about 10% of people with an inherited disorder like Factor V Leiden thrombophilia are at risk of developing unusual clots that can get serious.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis
DVT isn’t always accompanied by a list of symptoms. Often, patients may not even be aware they have DVT until they undergo certain tests. Nonetheless, here are a few signs to look out for.
- The affected area of the skin turns pale
- Cramping and soreness in the leg
- Warm sensation in the affected area
Common symptoms of PE, a complication of DVT, include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain
- Faster heart rate
Deep vein thrombosis – Diagnosis and treatment
After you head to a doctor’s clinic, they first learn about your symptoms. If they point to DVT (or PE), the tests given below may be conducted.
- D-dimer test
In this test, an amount of blood is extracted and later examined for the presence of a protein called D-dimer. This fibrin degradation product (FDP) is present in the blood after fibrinolysis degrades a blood clot. A higher than normal level of this protein indicates a blood clot.
Commonly used in the diagnosis of DVT, a venogram helps locate a blood clot. In this test, a dye is injected into a vein, and with the help of its movement, the clot’s location is tracked.
In this procedure, sound waves are used to form an image of the affected vein in the body. A device sends the waves through the vein, and its movement is tracked on a screen. Ultrasound is a useful test for knowing many things about a blood clot.
Once DVT is positively diagnosed, the doctor proceeds with the treatment. The goal is to prevent the growth of the blood clot and ensure it doesn’t develop into anything serious. Some of the common treatment methods for DVT are as follows:
Blood thinners are the most common type of medication used for treating DVT. Blood thinners work by preventing the blood’s ability to clot. They also ensure the existing clots don’t get bigger.
The doctor may advise using a filter to prevent a clot from reaching the lungs. The filter is inserted into the large abdominal vein in the body, known as vena cava.