When blood cells clump together, they can create a clot referred to as “deep vein thrombosis.” Deep vein thrombosis is most common in the lower body, especially in the lower legs, thighs, and pelvis, but blood clots can travel throughout the body to the lungs and other organs, presenting a serious health risk.
DVT can be caused by limited movement, vein abnormalities, blood medications, or anything that prevents the proper circulation of blood throughout your body. Common risk factors include:
- Family or previous history of blood clots – Some people inherit or have a condition that increases their risk of blood clots. These conditions can include diseases that affect the rate of blood flow or the viscosity of blood.
- Being on bed rest or sitting for long periods – Movement helps circulate blood throughout your body which can prevent the formation of blood clots so extended periods without movement can increase the risk of clots.
- Damaged Veins – Major surgery or injury can cause damage to the inner lining of veins.
- Spider or Varicose Veins – These conditions are caused by veins that allow blood to flow backwards and may increase the risk of DVT by affecting circulation.
- Pregnancy or taking birth control – Gaining weight during pregnancy increases the pressure in your leg veins. Increased estrogen during pregnancy or because of birth control also increases the levels of clotting factors in the blood.
- Obesity – Excess weight increases the pressure in the veins in your legs and lower body.
- Smoking – Smoking affects the circulation and clotting of blood, both of which are factors in DVT.
- Other health conditions – Heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health conditions can all increase the likelihood that you experience DVT.
Only about half of the people with DVT exhibit symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Swelling or pain in the legs or lower body, often only on one side.
- Cramping that begins in the calf, often at night or after long periods without movement.
- Discoloration or warmth over a patch of skin relative to the surrounding areas.
- Severe pain in the leg, ankle, or foot.
- Dizziness, rapid breating, or sweating.
Prior to experiencing DVT you can reduce your risk by stretching your legs and moving around regularly to keep your blood circulating as well as by taking all of your prescribed medications. This is especially important after major surgery. You can also focus on specific risk factors such as smoking and obesity or the condition of your veins. If you are experiencing Spider or Varicose veins, schedule a free consult with us to find out if you are a candidate for Endovenous Laser or Sclerotherapy treatment as these can eliminate veins that may be at a higher risk for a clot.
DVT is a serious condition and you should see a doctor right away if you are experiencing the symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication (blood thinners or thrombolytic drugs), compression stockings, or place a filter in the affected vein.