DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) is a serious condition that can be life threatening. It’s important to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and treatment to detect it quickly and seek help. Here is everything you need to know about DVTs:
What is a DVT?
Though you may not have heard of a DVT, you’ve very likely heard of a blood clot and the dangers associated with blockages in your veins or arteries. Blood clots are classified, in part, based on their locations.
A DVT, short for Deep Vein Thrombosis, is what happens when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in your body—most commonly, in your legs. DVTs can be both painful and dangerous.
The most dangerous complication that can arise from a DVT is a pulmonary embolism. This occurs if the blood clot dislodges itself from your deep vein and moves to block your lungs.
A shifted clot could also cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of these serious potential complications, it’s important to seek care immediately if you suspect you or a loved one may have a DVT.
Who is at Risk for a DVT?
Although anyone can get a DVT, certain people are more at risk for a DVT than others. Those most at risk for a DVT include:
- Adults over the age of 50
- Anyone recovering from a recent surgery
- Pregnant women and those taking hormonal birth controls
- Anyone with blood clotting disorders such as Factor V Deficiency
- People leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Individuals with a family history of a DVT
- Heavy smokers
How Do You Prevent a DVT?
Staying active is the best way to prevent a DVT. Be sure to get up and move around regularly and avoid sitting for several hours at a time.
Losing weight, giving up smoking, and watching your blood pressure are all great additional ways to lower your odds of having a DVT in your lifetime.
If you are at high risk for a DVT based on previous personal or family history, blood clotting disorders, or surgery, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner to help prevent a DVT. Taking this medication as prescribed is an important step to avoiding the complication of a DVT.
What Are the Symptoms of a DVT?
Sharp, debilitating pain in the leg, ankle, or foot is usually the first and most pronounced symptom of a DVT. This pain may be accompanied by swelling or cramping.
Sometimes, people ignore the signs of a DVT until the clot moves and they experience signs of pulmonary embolism. These include dizziness, faintness, sweating, and heart palpitations.
How is a DVT Diagnosed?
To diagnose a DVT, your doctor will first take a medical history and assess your pain levels. Once that has been done, they will have to image your leg to locate the DVT. Often, this is done using either an MRI or an ultrasound.
How Do You Treat a DVT?
Depending on the location and severity of the clot, your doctor may choose one or several treatment options. Compression socks may be used to increase circulation in your legs, while blood thinners may be prescribed to break up the clot. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the clot.
Be proactive about DVT complications and schedule and appointment with your Vein Care Specialist to learn about the health of your veins. Knowing more about possible blockages or clogs could end up saving your life.