Deep vein thrombosis (or DVT) is representative of a blood clot deep beneath the surface of the skin, usually located in the deep veins of the legs. These deep vein thrombi can occur anywhere in the body, but are generally present in the pelvic region and below. The lower regions of the body incur added stress from excess weight that can increase risk as blood flow is interrupted or slowed. The blood clot is described as a thrombus and can be particularly dangerous because once it grows to a large size, it will eventually break off from the place it formed and travel freely throughout the veins.
Once this deep vein thrombus breaks off of its parent vein, it becomes an embolus that can be fatal if left undetected. This deep vein embolism isn’t able to travel freely for too long, since eventually it will become lodged in an artery or move into the heart, where it will block blood flow and induce a heart attack (as the heart will be deprived of oxygen). When someone is affected by this embolus in the heart, it’s referred to as a pulmonary embolism (PE). It’s estimated that in later years, one-third of those that develop deep vein thrombosis will die from the condition if left undiagnosed and untreated.
At Canada Vein Clinics, we educate our patients on the acute effects of chronic venous insufficiency and those that develop undetected, deep within the veins. When our patients come in for vein health diagnosis and testing, they are informed of any existing conditions or any potential future vein conditions that may arise. Our treatments are noninvasive, virtually painless and effective, targeting the prevention of deep vein thrombosis and helping chronic venous insufficiency from developing into a potentially fatal condition over time.
What causes the formation of DVT?
These blood clots are often caused by lack of movement and viscous or thick blood that has a tendency to easily coagulate. Sometimes, the lack of movement is brought on by serious surgeries that require long durations of bed rest, so in this instance, it is vital that each patient is moved continuously throughout their time in the hospital to avoid the formation of DVT. Those that have had invasive surgery such as hip replacements have increased risk for the development of DVT. It’s also known that of those that are affected by DVT, about half will develop a pulmonary embolism.
Deep vein thrombosis is not extremely common, but approximately 200,000 Canadians are affected each year. These numbers are far less than that of heart attack and stroke, but are still cause for concern. Additionally, pregnant women have increased odds of developing DVT due to hormones, changes in blood flow and consistency, reduced movement, and weight of the developing baby.
Factors that present increased risk are:
- Superficial trauma in the legs
- Significant decrease in activity over an extended period after surgery
- Those suffering from congestive heart failure
- Elderly, 60 and over
- Chronic vein insufficiency/varicose veins
What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?
Pain and swelling in the legs are often the first set of symptoms. A few painless tests can be conducted to determine if you have this condition; many people don’t realize they have deep vein thrombosis because the condition can lack consistently present symptoms in the body. We often see patients with pain or shortness of breath that could be indicative of a blockage, but if you’re feeling ANY of these symptoms below, it is best you come in for a few diagnostic tests to rule it out.
Symptoms of DVT:
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in the legs
- Presence of varicose veins
- Swelling in the calves and ankles
- Shortness of breath
- Pain when walking
Ultrasonography testing is available at Canada Vein Clinics to rule out the presence of DVT or any deep vein concerns. Along with patient history and thorough clinical examinations, this is the best method to detect DVT. Our ultrasound testing allows your physician to see deep within the veins of the lower extremities where deep vein thrombosis often occurs. These tests are 99% accurate, and offer an excellent interior view of femoral and popliteal veins where these thrombi develop.
What can I do to prevent a blood clot from forming?
Once we have performed all of the proper testing to diagnose deep vein thrombosis, your physician will elaborate on the level of care and specific treatments you will require. The first method of preventative care is to use medical compression stockings that will be prescribed by your physician, as they come in various strengths and may be required for both legs. Ultimately, the best way to prevent blood clots from forming is to monitor your vein health, get plenty of regular exercise and make sure you’re never standing or sitting in one position for too long. Blood thinners may also lower your risk for clotting if your blood is thicker than normal.
Remaining active and maintaining a healthy diet will decrease your chances of developing these deep vein conditions. If you’re experiencing these symptoms or if you are at high risk for deep vein thrombosis, please call Canada Vein Clinics to schedule your consultation and ultrasonography test at 1-888-876-8346. There is far more a stake than just beautiful legs.