Deep vein thrombosis, commonly known as DVT, occurs when blood clots form deep in the veins in the lower extremities, such as the legs, thighs or pelvis, but can also occur in the upper extremities like the arms. Understanding this condition is a necessity because it can happen to anyone. It can cause serious harm, disability and, in some cases, death because it is often underdiagnosed. The good news is deep vein thrombosis, as serious as it is, can be prevented and/or treated if discovered early on.
Pulmonary embolism or PE is one of the biggest complications that could arise from deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when part of the clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream up to the lungs causing a blockage. It is possible to recover from this problem provided that the clot is not severe and appropriate treatment is administered, but it may still cause damage to the lungs. If the clot is large enough, it can cause a fatal injury by stopping blood from reaching your vital organs.
Approximately one-third (1/3) of patients who have deep vein thrombosis have long-term complications, most commonly, post-thrombotic syndrome where the leaflet valves in the veins become damaged from blood clots. In severe cases, some symptoms that may be experienced are swelling, pain, discoloration and scaling, or ulcers in the affected area. If left untreated, it can even reach a point where a person becomes disabled.
Everyone is prone to these conditions, but certain factors may increase these risks. Vein injuries are often caused by fractures, muscle injuries or major surgeries, particularly in the abdomen, pelvis, hip or leg region. Another is slow blood flow due to long confinements in bed or idle time as a result of medical issues, surgery, limited movement and space, sitting for long periods of time, or paralysis. High estrogen levels are another risk factor and is often caused by birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy, for up to six weeks after giving birth. Other risks include a chronic medical illness, history of DVT or clotting disorders, age, and obesity.
Under certain conditions, DVT can develop in anyone, but there are ways to prevent this. If you’re confined to your bed due to surgery, illness or injury, it is suggested to create movement or massage your extremities if possible. If a person is at high risk for developing this condition, talk to a medical practitioner on how to prevent this by either taking medication or using compression apparel. During long hours of travel, it is recommended to encourage blood circulation moving around every 2 to 3 hours, exercise or massage your legs and feet while sitting and wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing DVT is to live an active and healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding a sedentary life.
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician for a proper diagnosis of your specific case.