Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins that are deep in the legs or pelvis, and sometimes in the arms. The clot damages the vein wall and the tiny valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards. The condition can be fatal if a portion of the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, where it blocks blood vessels. About half of the people who develop DVT do not get an early diagnosis because they have none of the usual symptoms of pain, swelling and redness. Early intervention for deep vein thrombosis can prevent a serious condition.
Some of the symptoms of DVT are:
• Pain in the area of the vein
• Discoloration of the legs
• Tenderness in the calves
• Swelling of the lower leg
• Warmth in the skin
• Visible surface veins
• Fatigue in the legs
Another reason why early intervention is important is that it is crucial to treat DVT before it becomes chronic. Once the clot is more than six weeks old, it becomes very difficult to treat because it becomes part of the vein wall. Surgery may only exacerbate the condition and may prompt more clots to form. It is especially important to treat younger patients early because it is likely the deep vein thrombosis will reoccur.
Some of the risk factors for developing DVT are:
• Long periods of immobility, including bed rest or sitting
• A family history of DVT
• Previous DVT
• Oral contraceptives or hormone therapy
• Above the age of 40
• Coagulation abnormalities
• Orthopedic procedures
• Pregnancy and after pregnancy
• Current or previous cancer
• Recent surgery
Deep vein thrombosis may also occur during long economy-class flights that are more than four hours. It can occur on any trip in which the person is sitting in a cramped condition for long periods because of immobility and dehydration. This is because the blood flow slows down or stops. Some of the things you can do to prevent DVT from developing during travel is to avoid alcohol, drink a lot of water or other fluids, take aspirin and go on frequent walks.
There are several tests our specialist may use to diagnose DVT. If you are younger than 40 and undergoing minor surgery, you may be considered at low risk if surgery is your only risk factor. We may prescribe compression stockings, walking and range-of-motion exercises as soon as possible after surgery, elevating your legs above your heart and drinking plenty of fluids.
If you are a moderate or high-risk patient, there are other treatments that will help prevent blood clots from forming. High-risk patients are just about anyone who has surgery and is above 60 years old.
Early intervention for deep vein thrombosis is associated with an improved outcome, and if the blood clot is not treated or removed, there is a high risk of recurrence. When DVT is diagnosed early, it does not have time to damage the venous valves and their function can be preserved. You may still have the chance to maintain healthy veins.
At Premier Vein Institute, we are committed to diagnosing and treating deep vein thrombosis as early as possible to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient. For your convenience, we have locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview and Lakeland. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.