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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV): Everything You Need To Know

While DVT is a serious condition by itself, the most dangerous complication comes when a clot travels to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE)

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV): Everything You Need To Know

DVT can be caused by anything that slows the flow of blood through

When blood moves slowly in the veins, it can form clots in the veins; these clots are also called thrombus, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DTV). It is a complication that occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the body's deep veins, most commonly in the legs, pelvis, and arms. DVT can be caused by anything that slows the flow of blood through the deep veins in the legs; this can be because of an injury, surgery, or prolonged sitting or lying down on a bed.

While DVT is a serious condition by itself, the most dangerous complication comes when a clot travels to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE). This requires immediate medical intervention, as PE can be lethal.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV)

Recognizing the symptoms of DVT is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment. Common signs and symptoms of DVT include:

•    Swelling in the leg, ankle, or foot
•    Cramps, pain, or soreness in the affected area
•    The area near the affected area feels warmer
•    The skin over the affected area turns pale, reddish, or bluish

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV)

DVT is primarily caused by blood clots. A blood clot can be caused by anything that limits blood from flowing or clotting properly. Different factors can lead to the formation of clots, or DVT.

1. Reduced Mobility: When one sits a lot, such as on a long flight, blood can collect in the legs, especially the lower ones. If you are unable to move for an extended period of time, blood flow in the legs may slow down. This can result in the formation of a clot.

2. Surgery or Trauma: Surgery, particularly orthopaedic operations such as joint replacements, can result in DVT due to post-operative immobilization and likely blood vessel injury. DVT can also be caused by trauma, such as fractures or significant muscle damage.

3. Severe medical conditions: Certain health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, and genetic blood disorders, can make clot formation more likely.

4. Growing Age: DVT can occur at any age; however, the risk increases with age. DVT affects 1 in 10,000 people under the age of 20, but 1 in 100 people beyond the age of 80.

5. Pregnancy: Because of hormonal changes and pressure on the veins in the pelvis and legs, pregnant women are at a higher risk of DVT. Pregnancy can increase the risk of blood clots for up to six weeks after the baby is born.

Treatment Options:

•    Blood Thinners: Oral medication and injections can quickly prevent the growth of blood clots. Some medications work by inhibiting the blood's ability to clot, thus preventing the clot from getting larger and reducing the risk of new clots forming. They do not dissolve existing clots but give the body time to naturally break them down.

•    Thrombectomy: Thrombectomy devices are special catheters designed to help break up and physically remove all or portions of the blood clot during a minimally invasive procedure. A thrombectomy procedure can help to quickly restore blood flow, reduce medication dosage, and may help prevent damage to the valves in your vein, which can cause post-thrombotic syndrome.

•    Compression Stockings: Compression stockings or socks are specially designed to provide graduated pressure on the legs, with the greatest pressure at the ankle and decreasing as it moves up the leg. These stockings help improve blood flow in the legs, reduce swelling, and prevent complications like post-thrombotic syndrome.

•    Elevation and Movement: For less severe cases of DVT, elevating the affected limb and engaging in regular, gentle movement can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting for extended hours, is also important in preventing DVT.

•    Lifestyle Changes: Patients diagnosed with DVT often need to make long-term lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of recurrence. These changes may include maintaining a healthy weight with regular physical activity, avoiding smoking and drinking, and following a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and sodium.             

Prevention Tips: 

•    Keep the body moving and stay active
•    Quit Smoking
•    Keep the body hydrated
•    Medication
•    Having a healthy lifestyle
•    Managing blood pressure

(Dr. Pradeep Burli, MD, DNB, FRCR (UK), Director, Interventional Radiology, Care Hospital, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad)

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