Clotting of blood in the vein deep inside the leg or arm is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, it is also referred to as DVT. Discovered by German pathologist Rudolf Virchow in 1856, DVT can be life threatening if the symptoms are not treated in time. As the clot forms deep in the veins the symptoms may not always be visible on a patient. Chances of having Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT are high if the patient suffers from certain medical conditions that affect how the blood clots. Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a serious condition as the blood clot in veins can break away, travel through the bloodstream and get lodged in the lungs blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).
Deep Vein Thrombosis can happen to someone whose body movement gets restricted. A person confined to bed for a long time due to accident or illness can suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. A person recovering from surgery has restricted body movements and they can also suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis. Let us know the warning signs and symptoms of DVT to be more aware and alert of this fatal condition.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis is clotting of blood deep inside the vein. It is important to note that often those who suffer from DVT do not show or have any of the signs and symptoms of this condition. Pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot breaks away and travels to the lungs. A patient must look for warning signs and consult the doctor immediately if symptoms of DVT start appearing suddenly. Some people inherit Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT while in some cases it can be the result of having an unhealthy lifestyle.
Warning Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis: How do I know if I have DVT?
The warning signs and symptoms for Deep Vein Thrombosis in a patient can range from mild to severe. Some of the common signs and symptoms of DVT include distention of surface veins, pain or tenderness, redness or coloration, swelling and warmth feeling on the legs. Although, these signs and symptoms are not enough to make a proper diagnosis, the chances of diagnosing DVT increases when the symptoms are analyzed with other known risk factors. Sometimes the symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT are seen in only one leg and in some cases it is visible in both legs. Other symptoms and warning signs for DVT include –
- Sudden fainting
- Sudden rapid pulse
- Coughing up blood
- Pain in the foot and ankle
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Unexplained sudden shortness of breath
- Pain in one leg that increase when legs are pressed
- Chest pain and discomfort during coughing or taking deep breath.
Understanding the Risk Factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis to Know if you have DVT or Not
Deep Vein Thrombosis can be caused by certain medical conditions that affect the free flow of blood inside the vein. Conditions such as paralysis and long stay in hospital that restricts body movements can lead to DVT in a person. Those who have suffered from heart failure are at an increased risk of having Deep Vein Thrombosis. Certain types of cancer or cancer treatments can boost the levels of substances that cause clots in the blood. Pregnancy itself increases the chances of blood clotting. Moreover, pregnant woman who have inherited DVT disorder are at a higher risk for up to six weeks after delivery.
There are several risk factors that can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis. If a person is overweight, it puts additional pressure on the legs and veins and that can lead to DVT. A person who travels for long hours in a car or plane is at risk, especially if they have other risk factors too. Some of the other risk factors are:
- Family history of DVT
- Taking birth control pills
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Injury that damages the veins
- Undergoing hormone therapy
- Putting catheter inside the vein
- Being seated for long hours in plane or car
- Restricted body movement for days.
How to Diagnose DVT Early?
Early detection is very important for successfully treating a medical emergency like Deep Vein Thrombosis. To diagnose if a patient has Deep Vein Thrombosis or not the doctor can suggest various tests and examinations. An ultrasound of the deep veins can be recommended to see if there are any clots. Blood tests to check the levels of D-dimer can also be suggested. An elevated level of D-dimer is a sign that the patient is suffering from DVT. X-ray of the veins in legs, feet and arm known as venography can help in checking if any clots are present. Doctors can also suggest a CT scan or MRI scan to check if the deep veins have clots or not. The tests will also help in diagnosing if the patient has an inherited condition or it is the result of pulmonary embolism.
The doctor will consider the symptoms and risk factors while diagnosing if a patient suffers from DVT. If detected early DVT is treatable, so it is important to not delay seeking medical help. A person who was once diagnosed having DVT has a higher chance of developing it again. Going for regular health checkups can certainly help in preventing the condition from recurring. It is advisable for patients to consult with the doctor regularly if they display one or more of the risk factors associated with this condition.
When to visit doctor?
Visiting the doctor as soon as the symptoms appear is a good way of diagnosing and getting treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis. If the patient shows symptoms like coughing up blood, severe lightheadedness, sharp pain in the chest and severe shortness of breath the emergency room must be contacted immediately. Treating DVT early is urgent and important as it is considered to be a medical emergency. Writing down all the symptoms that the patient experiences and the medicines they are taking is a good idea. This can help the doctor to start treatment immediately.
The main aim of treating DVT involves the prevention of pulmonary embolism. After that the doctor works to ease the symptoms and restoring the flow of blood to the affected arm or limb. Heparin and other injectable blood thinners help in lessening the clotting and preventing the formation of new clots. Depending on the doctor's prescription, blood thinners can be taken for five to seven days. Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a medical emergency and hence, occurrence of any signs and symptoms of DVT must not be taken lightly. Instead one should seek immediately medical attention.