Deep vein thrombosis or DVP, as the name suggests, occurs when a blood clot forms deep inside the body. A clot is usually a clump of blood that solidifies. This clot generally occurs in the veins of the legs, thighs, and pelvis. (bparlay.com) A minority of deep vein thrombosis has also been seen to occur in the arms. It can lead to a serious issue called pulmonary embolism that blocks one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. Although curable, deep vein thrombosis can lead to major illness, disabilities, and sometimes even death. Therefore there is a need for a better understanding of the issue.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Cuases
Deep vein thrombosis is caused by a clot in the veins, blocking the proper flow of blood through them. Arteries have thin muscle tissues within their walls to resist the pressure of the blood pumped by the heart, which is absent in veins as they do not have to withstand such pressure.
The activity of the muscles inside the body squeezes the blood from the veins to the heart. When this does not happen, the blood fails to reach the heart, and the stagnated blood will start to clot. It becomes dangerous when a blood clot in the deep venous system breaks and travels through the circulatory system and clogs one of the arteries.
This prevents the flow of blood through the lungs properly and decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood. This is called pulmonary embolism. It is the major complication of deep vein thrombosis and is often life-threatening; it requires emergency care.
👉Pregnancy can increase the risk of DVT
Immobility is the main cause of deep vein thrombosis as the blood flow depends on the activity of muscles. Obesity, prolonged sitting while traveling, pregnancy, surgery, hospitalization, and trauma to the lower body can cause immobility issues. Pregnancy can increase the risk of getting deep vein thrombosis. In fact, the rate of developing a deep vein thrombosis is 5 to 10 times more in pregnant individuals.
During pregnancy, the blood-clotting elements rise while the anticoagulants in the body fall. Also, changes in hormone levels and lower blood circulation during pregnancy poses risks. This can continue up to 6 weeks after delivery. Bed rest after having a cesarean increases the risk even more.
Another reason for deep vein thrombosis is a condition called hypercoagulation. It is a condition in which the blood clots faster than usual. Fracture, increased red blood cell count, a trauma in veins, smoking, cancer, genetics, and certain medications cause hypercoagulation.
Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), states that symptoms of deep vein thrombosis occur only in about half of the people suffering from this condition. People may not realize that they have deep vein thrombosis until they have gone through emergency pulmonary embolism treatment.
Common side effects include swelling of the foot, ankle, or legs. Severe pain and warmth in the affected area can be felt. The skin over the affected area turns pale reddish or bluish color. If the clot is formed deep inside the arms, neck pain, shoulder pain, swelling of arms, pale reddish or bluish hand, pain and weakness in the arm would be felt.
Diagnosis is carried out by blood tests and confirmed by ultrasound or imaging tests. If this is not satisfactory the doctor will suggest a venogram. A dye is injected into the blood in the veins and an x-ray image is taken to find any form of a clot in the suspected area.
As said pulmonary embolism is the major complication causing serious damage to the lungs. This, in turn, affects the whole body and causes complications like- dizziness, chest pain, sweating, coughing blood, and rapid breathing
Before jumping into the treatment methods, let us take time in understanding the ways to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
- Maintaining an active lifestyle
- Monitoring blood pressure
- Keeping weight in check
- Following a healthy diet
- Quitting smoking
- Moving around while on a long journey
- Taking blood-thinning medicines after surgery as prescribed by doctors.
If you ever experience the symptoms, consult a doctor. Focus on removing the clot from the area and in turn preventing pulmonary embolism. Doctors would prescribe blood-thinning medicines like heparin and warfarin. If the medicines do not work and if you are suffering from upper deep vein thrombosis, the doctor would suggest thrombolytic drugs.
If you are not able to take these drugs, putting filters in the vena cava may help to treat pulmonary embolism. In the case of a very large clot, the doctor might go for surgery.
There are also measures you need to follow while you are at home. Not being idle, wearing compression socks, and keeping the arms and legs elevated are some of them. Like all diseases, a balanced diet is what the least a person can do in order to cure it. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Include whole grains that are rich in fiber. But certain nutrients like vitamin K can neutralize the effect of the blood-thinning drugs. So keep those to a minimum
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious life-threatening disease. Experts say you are at greater risk if you do not show any symptoms.
Therefore prevention is the best that we can do. Moving regularly, wearing compression stockings, and adopting a balanced diet are key ways to manage DVT risk.