Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common but serious medical condition that occurs in approximately 2 million Americans each year. A DVT is a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the leg or arm. While this can cause significant local symptoms the greatest concern is with the possibility of the clot coming loose and traveling to the lungs which is known as a Pulmonary Embolism and can be fatal. Learn the risk factors, signs and symptoms for DVT.
The symptoms of DVT may be subtle and difficult to detect. When DVT is spotted early and properly treated, the risk of complications is reduced. When left untreated, it may cause severe complications, some even fatal. Pulmonary Embolism kills up to 300,000 people a year in the U.S. — that’s more than AIDS and breast cancer combined!
Only about half of the people with DVT experience symptoms, which can include:
Discoloration or redness of the affected area
Skin that is warm to the touch
Risk factors for DVT include prior DVT, prolonged bedrest, surgery, pregnancy, limb immobilization, cancer, chronic lung disease, and autoimmune diseases.
Because a number of other conditions – including muscle strains, skin infections, and phlebitis (inflammation of superficial veins) – display symptoms similar to those of DVT, the condition may be difficult to diagnose without specific tests.
If your healthcare provider suspects you could have DVT, they should recommend a Doppler (Duplex Venous) Ultrasound on your leg(s), which can reveal the presence of a clot. Doppler ultrasound is the least invasive method and is highly accurate in diagnosing DVT. Most DVTs are managed with a combination of anticoagulation medications, compression stockings, and regular walking. Sometimes blood clotting tendencies can run in families, thus increasing the risk in certain individuals.