Deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT, is a serious condition that may be potentially life threatening that can occur in the arm, leg or even the pulmonary region. If you suspect there is a chance you have DVT, you might feel a change in your limb such as swelling, tightness, pain or tenderness and even a throbbing cramp.
Your blood is meant to flow, but if you become inactive, the blood becomes sluggish and there is risk of a blood clot forming. There are many reasons why a blood clot may form; immobility for lengthy periods like a long period of travel, an airplane flight, and surgery, hospitalization or recurring inactiveness due to obesity. Many travelers wear knee-length compression stockings as a precaution against leg swelling, which can be associated with deep vein thrombosis.
The human body is designed to regularly form microscopic clots and in normal conditions, they are generally broken down by the body. If the body’s natural equilibrium is disturbed by any one or a combination of the above situations, there is chance of chronic DVT. By itself the condition need not be dangerous, but if a piece of the clot breaks off and travels to the heart blocking one of the pulmonary arteries, then it can be life threatening. Should you encounter any of the below warning signs or symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately
Warning signs of DVT might be:
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when taking a deep breath
- Warmth in the limb
Actual symptoms can include:
- Redness and itching
- Leg pain
- Ulceration of the skin
- Shortness of breath
Diagnostic systems to determine if you have DVT
- Ultrasound – the clot may appear as an image.
- Venography – an x-ray can determine if a clot is present when a dye is injected.
- Blood test – most DVT patients have an elevated reading of D dimer, a chemical present in the blood when a clot is dissolving.
- CT or MRI Scans may pick up the image of the clot.
If you have been diagnosed with DVT, the first priority is to prevent the clot getting bigger, breaking loose and also to avoid further clots from forming. Administering blood thinners is the most common form of medication prescribed. Initial treatment can be by an intravenous anticoagulant or alternatively others, which are injected under the skin for a few days, and then oral blood thinners might be introduced. Another choice is to start ‘clot busters’ or thrombolytic medication, which will help dissolve the clot quicker.
Each year there are newer and better treatments for all types of conditions and DVT is no exception. If you are unable to take oral blood thinner medications, a vena cava filter can be inserted into a large vein in the abdomen to prevent the clot from becoming dislodged and traveling to the lungs. With severe cases there is a newly developed, unique, minimally invasive, endovascular system that uses ultrasonic waves via an innovated catheter to assist in dissolving the whole clot.
Image By BruceBlaus. When using this image in external sources it can be cited as:
Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014“. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link