Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside the body. A blood clot is a clump of blood that’s turned to a solid state.
DVT can cause leg pain or swelling, but also can occur with no symptoms. Deep vein thrombosis can develop if a person has certain medical conditions that affect how their blood clots. It can also happen if there’s no movement for a long time, such as after surgery or an accident, or when a person is confined to bed.
Deep vein thrombosis can be very serious because blood clots in the veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstreams and lodge in the lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).
Symptoms of DVT
Patients must call the doctor right away if they have these DVT symptoms, especially if they appear suddenly;
- Swelling in one or both legs
- Pain or tenderness in the leg, ankle, foot or arm. It might feel like a cramp or charley horse that they can’t get rid of. Leg and foot pain might only happen when they stand or walk.
- Warm skin on their leg
- Red or discolored skin on their leg
- Veins that are swollen, red, hard, or tender to the touch that they can see.
Call 911 or go to an emergency room right away if they notice leg pain or swelling and;
- Sudden coughing, which may bring up blood
- Sharp chest pain or chest tightness
- Pain in their shoulder, arm, back or jaw
- Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain when they breathe
- Severe lightheadedness
- Fast heartbeat
If a patient has a blood clot and it breaks free, it could travel to their lungs. That’s called a pulmonary embolism, it can be deadly.
The doctor will ask the patient about their health, medical history, and symptoms, and they’ll do a physical exam. They’ll decide if the patient is a low or high risk of DVT. This will help them decide which tests to do. Patients may also need to have tests to rule out other problems or to confirm diagnosis.
- D-dimer test
- Duplex ultrasound
- Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI)
DVT treatment is aimed at preventing the clot from getting bigger and preventing it from breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism. Then the goal becomes reducing the chances of deep vein thrombosis happening again.
Deep vein thrombosis treatment option include
- Blood thinners – Deep vein thrombosis is most commonly treated with anticoagulants, also called blood thinners.
- Clot Busters – These drugs are either given through an IV line to break up blood clots or through a catheter placed directly into the clot.
- Filters – A vena cava filter prevents clots that break loose from lodging in the lungs.
- Compression stockings – to help prevent swelling associated with deep vein thrombosis, these are worn on your legs from your feet to about the level of the patient’s knees.
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