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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body (legs).

There may be no symptom at all or there could be leg pain or swelling.

Why is it A Ticking Bomb?

The blood clot has the potential to

  • Break free and travel through the bloodstream, where
  • It can become lodged in the blood vessels of the lung (known as a pulmonary embolism ).
  • This can be a life-threatening condition. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and treatment are necessary.
  • Lead to complications in the legs referred to as chronic venous insufficiency or the post-thrombotic syndrome.

Deep vein thrombosis signs and symptoms can include:

  • Swelling in the affected leg.
  • Pain in your leg. In the calf and can feel like cramping or soreness.
  • Red or discoloured skin on the leg.
  • A feeling of warmth in the affected leg.

 

The warning signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath or inability to breathe.
  • Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or when you cough.
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or fainting.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Coughing up blood.

Here are some things that increase your chances of DVT:

It’s a good idea to know what puts you at risk of getting DVT, so you can avoid getting it.

Risk factors

Many factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The more you have, the greater your risk of DVT. Risk factors include:

  1. Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying
  2. Inheriting a blood-clotting disorder.  (Disorder that makes their blood clot more easily).
  3. Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay, or paralysis.
    • When your legs remain still for long periods,
    • calf muscles don’t contract to help blood circulate,
    • it can increase the risk of blood clots.
  1. Pregnancy. Increases the pressure in the veins in your pelvis and legs.
    1. Women with an inherited clotting disorder are especially at risk.
    2. The risk of blood clots from pregnancy can continue for up to six weeks after you have your baby.
  2. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) or hormone replacement therapy. Both can increase your blood’s ability to clot.
  3. Obesity Being overweight increases the pressure in the veins in your pelvis and legs.
  4. Smoking. Smoking affects blood clotting, which increase your risk of DVT.
  5. Injury or surgery. Injury to your veins or surgery can increase the risk of blood clots
  6. Cancer. Some forms of cancer increase substances in your blood that cause your blood to clot. Some forms of cancer treatment also increase the risk of blood clots.
  7. Heart failure.  Increases your risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism. Because people with heart failure have limited heart and lung function, the symptoms caused by even a small pulmonary embolism are more noticeable.
  8. Inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, increase the risk of DVT.
  9. A family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. If you or someone in your family has had one or both of these, you might be at greater risk of developing a DVT.
  10. Age. Being older than 60 increases your risk of DVT.

 

How is DVT diagnosed?

Common tests to diagnose a DVT are:

duplex venous ultrasound.

  • The most common test used to diagnose a DVT.
  • It shows the blood flow in the veins and any blood clots that exist.
  • An ultrasound technician will apply pressure while scanning your arm or leg.
  • If the pressure does not cause the vein to compress, it could mean there is a blood clot.

Venography.

Uses X-rays to show your deep veins.

A special dye (contrast material) is injected into your veins so the X-rays show the veins and any blood clots.

Any blockage in blood flow may also be seen. Venography may be used if the results of the duplex ultrasound aren’t clear.

Other tests you may have include:

  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV):

Computed tomography (CT) scan

May be used to find a DVT in the abdomen or pelvis, as well as blood clots in the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Can I Prevent DVT from Happening?

If you have an increased risk of developing one, be sure to:

  • Exercise your lower leg muscles if you need to sit still for a long time.
  • Stand up and walk at least every half hour if you are on a long flight.
  • Get out of bed and move around as soon as you can after you are sick or have surgery.
  • The sooner you move around, the less chance you have of developing a clot.
  • Take medications or use compression stockings after surgery (if prescribed by your doctor) to reduce your risk of a clot.
  • Make lifestyle changes. Lose weight and quit smoking.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid coffee and alcohol.

Work the muscles in your legs:

  • Stretch your legs.
  • Flex your feet.
  • Curl or press your toes down.

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