Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT, is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Blood clots occur when blood thickens and clumps together.

Most deep vein blood clots occur in the lower leg or thigh, but they can also occur in other parts of the body.

A blood clot in a deep vein can break off and travel through the bloodstream. The loose clot is called an embolus.  It can travel to an artery in the lungs and block blood flow. This condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE).

Symptoms:

  • Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking
  • Increased warmth in the area of the leg that’s swollen or painful
  • Red or discolored skin on the leg

Some people aren’t aware of a deep vein clot until they have signs and symptoms of PE. Signs and symptoms of PE include:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid breathing and fast heart rate

Treatment:

Several types of medicine may be used to treat and/or prevent deep vein thrombosis:

  • Anticoagulants to decrease your blood’s ability to clot
  • Thrombolytics to quickly dissolve a blood clot
  • Thrombin inhibitors to interfere with the clotting process

Vena cava filters are used when you can’t take medicines to thin your blood, or when you’re taking blood thinners but continue to develop clots anyway. The filter is inserted inside a large vein called the vena cava. The filter catches clots that break off in a vein before they move through the bloodstream to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). It’s important to know the filter doesn’t prevent new clots from developing.

Graduated compression stockings can reduce the chronic swelling that can occur after a blood clot has developed in a leg. These stockings are tight at the ankle and become looser as they go up the to the knee. This causes a gentle compression (or pressure) up the leg. The pressure keeps blood from pooling and clotting.

For More Information visit NHBLI – DVT.