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Deep Vein Thrombosis

What is deep vein thrombosis?

A thrombosis is a blood clot. When a thrombosis forms in one or more deep veins in your body, usually in your legs, it is called deep vein thrombosis.

What are the most common signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

In nearly 50% of all instances of deep vein thrombosis, it occurs without any discernible symptoms. When deep vein thrombosis symptoms are apparent they may include: pain in your leg, ankle and/or foot which frequently starts in your calf and can feel like cramping; swelling in the affected leg, including swelling in your foot and ankle; changes in your skin color, such as turning red, pale, or blue; and warmth over the affected area.

Is deep vein thrombosis dangerous?

Yes, it is dangerous because when you have deep vein thrombosis a blood clot that has formed in one of your veins might break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs and block the flow of your blood. This event is called a pulmonary embolism, and is potentially life-threatening.

What causes deep vein thrombosis?

Many things can cause deep vein thrombosis, specifically anything which prevents normal flowing or clotting of your blood. Deep vein thrombosis can develop if you sit still for a long time, such as when traveling by plane or car or if you have certain medical conditions that affect how well your blood forms clots.

What factors increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis?

\Certain people run a greater risk of deep vein thrombosis than others. Common risk factors include: inheriting a blood-clotting disorder; sitting for long periods of time; injury or surgery; prolonged bed rest; pregnancy; inflammatory bowel disease; heart failure; cancer; birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy; a pacemaker or a thin, flexible tube (catheter) in a vein; a family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism; a history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism; being overweight or obese; being over age 60; smoking; and being tall.

How is deep vein thrombosis treated?

There are three main goals of deep vein thrombosis treatment: preventing your blood clot from increasing in size; preventing your blood clot from breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism; and reducing the odds of your experiencing deep vein thrombosis happening again.

Are blood thinners used to treat deep vein thrombosis?

Yes.  Anticoagulant medications are used to treat deep vein thrombosis. These blood thinners inhibit your blood’s ability to clot. They cannot break up existing blood clots, but can prevent clots from getting bigger and can minimize your risk of developing more clots.

Are clot busters used to treat deep vein thrombosis?

Yes. Clot-buster medications may be prescribed if you have a more serious type of deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. They may also be prescribed if other medications aren’t working. One group of medications, thrombolytics, is given intravenously to break up blood clots. These drugs can cause serious bleeding and typically are only used in life-threatening situations.

Are filters used to treat deep vein thrombosis?

When a patient cannot take blood-thinning medication, a filter may be inserted into a large vein in the abdomen, the vena cava. This filter prevents clots that break loose from lodging in your lungs. These filters are sometimes referred to as umbrellas because they resemble the wire spokes of an umbrella.

How is deep vein thrombosis detected?

To help detect deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will ask you several questions about your symptoms and give you a physical exam to detect tenderness, swelling, or discoloration of the skin. Further tests may include: ultrasound; a blood test; a CT or MRI scan; and venography, an x-ray of your veins.

Are compression stockings used to treat deep vein thrombosis?

Compression stockings help prevent the swelling often associated with deep vein thrombosis. These stockings are worn on the leg from the level of your knee down to the toes and help reduce the odds that your blood will pool and clot.

What can one do to prevent deep vein thrombosis?

There are several steps you can take to prevent deep vein thrombosis from getting worse or to minimize further complications. Move. Limit your intake of vitamin K. Have regular doctor examinations. Exercise your lower calf muscle. Lose weight. Control your blood pressure. Wear compression stockings. Be aware if you are bleeding excessively when you get a bruise or cut. Quit smoking.

Is deep vein thrombosis a common condition?

It is estimated that about 1 in 1,000 adults per year have deep vein thrombosis.

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