Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (also called a thrombus) that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh but can also occur in other parts of the body. This clot may interfere with circulation and it may break off and travel through the blood stream and lodge in the lungs, causing severe damage to that organ. If the clot lodges in the lung, it is called pulmonary embolism. This is a very serious condition that can cause death. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include chest pain when taking a deep breath, rapid pulse, fainting, shortness of breath and coughing up of blood. Blood clots that remain lodged in the leg can result in pain and swelling.
Only about half of the people with deep vein thrombosis have symptoms. The symptoms may include:
It is important to see a doctor right away if you have symptoms of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis can cause very serious complications if not treated.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, stop smoking, exercise regularly, and prevent obesity.
In situations of high DVT risks such as major surgery, do discuss with your doctor on preventive measures which include medications such as blood thinners and physical methods such as foot/calf pumps and compression stockings.
If the occurrence of DVT or PE is suspected it is best to seek medical help and to confirm the presence of DVT with radiological imaging such as a duplex ultrasound of the affected leg.
Risk factors for DVT include stasis of blood flow and hypercoagulable states (a condition in which there is an abnormal increased tendency toward blood clotting).
Conditions with a strong risk factor include: spinal cord injury, major trauma, major general surgery.
Conditions with a medium risk factor include: chemotherapy, oral contraceptive therapy, hormone replacement therapy and paralytic stroke.
Conditions with a small risk factor include: obesity, bed rest for more than three days, and immobility due to sitting and varicose veins.