Understanding Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops with a deep vein, commonly in the legs. DVT is a type of venous disease, which affects around 15 percent of adults in America. It can occur in one or more veins and may have some serious consequences should any of the clots break loose and travel to the lungs. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for deep vein thrombosis.

What Are the Symptoms of DVT?

The symptoms of DVT are not always noticeable. However, they can manifest in several ways. Some will experience cramping or throbbing in one leg, and in rarer instances both legs. Another symptom includes redness or warmth in a specific area of the leg. Also, the leg may swell, and the veins can become swollen and sore. When you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Are You At Risk?

There are many risk factors associated with the development of DVT. If you have more than one of these, you may be at increased risk for DVT. If you have any of the following risk factors, we recommend that you consult your physician and be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of DVT.

  • Age – Although DVT can occur at any age, it is most common in patients over the age of 60.
  • Genetics – Some individuals may inherit a blood-clotting disorder, which makes the blood clot more easily than average.
  • Bed Rest – Patients who have spent a prolonged amount of time on bed rest may be more likely to develop DVT. When we aren’t moving or walking around, as usual, the calf muscles no longer contract—an action which helps keep blood flowing normally throughout the legs.
  • Pregnancy – Women who are pregnant have increased blood volume and pressure throughout areas such as their legs. Those who also have a blood clotting disorder or have been prescribed bed rest are more susceptible. The risk of DVT can continue to be heightened up to 6 weeks postpartum.
  • Birth Control or Hormone Replacement – These can each interfere with the blood’s ability to clot normally.
  • Being Overweight – Being overweight or obese places additional pressure in the legs and veins, increasing the risk for a clot.
  • Smoking – Smoking increases the risk of most severe or chronic diseases. In the case of DVT, smoking interferes with proper blood clotting and circulation.
  • Heart Failure – Heart failure greatly impacts the function of not only the heart but the lungs as well. These patients are particularly susceptible to the dangers of a pulmonary embolism that may result from DVT.
  • Cancer – Certain types of cancer and cancer-treating medications can increase the risk of DVT. Speak to your doctor to learn more about this.
  • IBD – Certain types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can increase your risk of DVT. These include Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and more. Speak to your doctor to learn more.

Understanding Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment

Treating DVT has two purposes: preventing the clot from growing and preventing it from moving to the lungs. The following techniques can be used for treating DVT:

  • Blood Thinning Medication – This is the most commonly prescribed treatment for DVT. While blood thinners cannot break apart an existing clot, they can stop it from getting larger and reduce the chance of forming future clots.
  • Clot Busting Medication – In more serious cases of DVT or where there is a risk of a pulmonary embolism, special medicine is given to break up the clot. The medicines are usually delivered through an IV or catheter.
  • Filters – As an additional precaution against a blood clot in the legs reaching the lungs, a filter might be placed in the vena cava artery in the abdomen. This filter should catch and stymie a blood clot before it can progress to the lungs.

Trust CIS With Your Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment 

If you have concerns and think that you may suffer from DVT, trust Cardiovascular Institute of the South to take care of your needs. Our cardiologists are experts in their field, and we have many convenient locations to choose from. Feel free to schedule an appointment online or give us a call at the location nearest you. Together, we can ensure that DVT does not hinder the quality of your life.

Do you know your risk of venous disease? Take our seven-question vein assessment.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff