According to the National Institutes of Health Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Blood clots occur when blood thickens and clumps together. A blood clot deep in a vein can break off and travel through the bloodstream most often traveling to the heart and lungs.
According to Dr. Lochridge of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, P.C., it’s a very serious condition because if the clot breaks off and surfaces in your lungs, it can be fatal. This is called a Pulmonary Embolus, and it is the most common cause of death in hospitalized patients.
“DVT is usually treated with anticoagulants, such as Heparin and Coumadin. But for those that may not be able to tolerate blood thinners there is also a surgical procedure called Vena Cava Filter,” said Dr. Lochridge. “This is where we go in and put a small screen in the vein and that keeps the clot from reaching the lung. This however, does not prevent the formation of future clots.”
Apparently only half-of the people who have DVT know it, because sometimes there are no symptoms. For those that do have symptoms they are usually among the following:
- Swelling of the leg
- Pain or tenderness in the leg
- Increased warmth in the area of the leg
- Red or discolored skin on the leg.
For those that don’t have any symptoms, they are usually not aware until they have a Pulmonary Embolism. The signs are:
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Pain with deep breathing
- Coughing up blood
While the causes are varied for DVT according to the NIH they usually occur when blood flow is sluggish or slow due to a lack of motion. Examples would be following surgery, if someone is in bed for a long time, or if you are traveling for a long time. There are also some inherited conditions that can increase your risk.
If you suspect you have DVT or are at risk contact your doctor.