Every year, an estimated 900,000 people in the United States are affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially fatal condition. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body, most often in the leg. Though rare, DVT can also form in the arms, lungs, or other parts of the body.
Blood Clot Warning Signs
As stated above, it most commonly affects the veins in your legs, but can also occur in other parts of your body. A DVT can be serious because it can cause variable symptoms and complications, some of which can be life-threatening.
It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of DVT so that you can seek medical attention if you think you might have it. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of DVT so that you can seek medical attention if you think you might have it.
Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis
There are a few key risk factors of DVT that you should be aware of. It’s important to know the signs because deep vein thrombosis could lead to a pulmonary embolism.
Swelling in one or both legs
If you experience swelling in one or both legs, it could be a sign of a blood clot, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in your body, usually in your leg. The clot can cause the vein to become swollen and painful. If left untreated, the clot can break free and travel to your lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Pain or tenderness in one or both legs
A blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis, in the leg can cause severe pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may be constant or may come and go, and it may vary in intensity. The leg may also feel warm to the touch, and the skin may be red or swollen. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
Increased skin temperature in one or both legs
A blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in the legs can cause the affected leg to feel warm to the touch. This is due to the increased skin temperature, which is a common symptom of a DVT. Other symptoms of a DVT include swelling, pain, and redness in the leg. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
Red or discolored skin on one or both legs
DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is a blood clot that forms in one of the deep veins in the body, usually in the leg. A DVT can cause the skin on the leg to change color, often turning red or purple. The skin around the clot can also become swollen and painful. If a DVT breaks free and travels to the lungs, it can cause a life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism.
If you think you or someone you know may have a blood clot, it is important to seek medical attention right away. But how is a blood clot diagnosed?
First, they will take a thorough medical history and ask about any symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
They will also do a physical examination. This may include checking for swelling, tenderness, and warmth in the affected area.
Blood Clot Diagnosis Testing
Doctors may also order tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or venogram. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the blood vessels and can often show blockages caused by clots. A CT scan uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body and can also detect clots. An MRI uses magnetic fields to create detailed images of the body and can also show signs of a clot. Lastly, a venogram is an X-ray of the veins and can show blockages or clots.
How is a DVT Treated?
Most DVTs can be treated with anticoagulant medications, also called blood thinners. These medications prevent clots from getting bigger and stop new clots from forming. Blood thinners do have some side effects, such as bleeding. Therefore, it’s important that you take them exactly as prescribed by your doctor. It’s paramount to understand the risks.
Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove a DVT. This is usually only done if you can’t take blood thinners or if they haven’t worked. Catheter-directed thrombolysis is a minimally invasive procedure used to break up DVTs. Patients in this procedure, a small tube (catheter) is inserted into the vein through a small incision in the skin. Medications are then injected through the catheter to break up the clot.
Compression stockings are often recommended for people with DVT. They help reduce swelling and pain by applying pressure to your legs. You will need to wear them for at least 2 weeks after your clot has gone away. Wearing compression stockings for too long can cause skin problems, so make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
DVTs can cause serious complications if they aren’t treated properly. A DVT can develop in your legs and if it breaks off and travels to your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). PEs block blood flow to your lungs and can be fatal. Symptoms of a PE include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid pulse and an irregular heartbeat. If you have these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
PTS as a DVT Complication
Another complication that can happen because of a DVT is post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). This happens when DVTs damage valves in your veins and cause blood to pool in your legs (venous insufficiency). PTS can cause pain, swelling, itching, and skin problems like ulcers. Wearing compression stockings and elevating your legs above your heart can help prevent PTS after you’ve had a DVT.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. DVT is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.
Who is at Risk For Blood Clots?
Anyone can develop a blood clot, but some people are at greater risk than others. Factors that increase your risk of developing a blood clot include: age (being over 60), injury or surgery (particularly to the hip, knee, or leg), immobility (being bedridden or sitting for long periods of time), pregnancy, cancer, smoking, and certain medical conditions (such as heart disease, stroke, and varicose veins).
If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk. Taking preventive measures can help keep you safe from the potentially dangerous consequences of blood clots.
DVT is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. If you experience any signs or symptoms of DVT, seek medical attention immediately. If you are one of the 900,000 people who suffers from DVT each year, early diagnosis and treatment is essential to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.