People don’t spend much time thinking about their veins. After all, they silently do their work underneath the surface of the skin. However, one medical condition involving the veins, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), is often underdiagnosed and serious, but measures can be taken to decrease risk. The Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 350,000 – 900,000 Americans develop venous blood clots each year. Let’s take a look at what it is and what warning signs we may see.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot, or thrombus, forms in one or more of the deep veins in the legs. This blockage in blood flow results in leg pain and swelling. This can become more serious if blood clots in the legs break loose, travel through the bloodstream and become lodged in the blood vessels of the lungs which will block the normal blood flow and decrease the amount of oxygen that is carried through the body by the blood. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE) and can be life-threatening.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Consultations Available
What Increases the Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
There are several common risk factors for deep vein thrombosis. Knowing these risk factors can help you to know if you are at risk of developing DVT.
- Blood clotting disorders or a family history of clotting commonly put people at risk. Blood thinners are often prescribed for these patients.
- Not moving for long periods of time while working or traveling. It is recommended that on long plane, train, or automobile trips that you get up and walk around every 60 to 90 minutes to allow your calves to fully work/flex and keep your blood pumping. If you sit at a desk all day, get up and walk every hour.
- Taking birth control or hormone replacement therapy that contains estrogen.
- Pregnancy can put extra strain on the pelvis and legs and contribute to the development of clots.
- Obesity can put you at an increased risk, especially if your BMI is over 30. Watching your diet and exercising is recommended for everyone.
- Cancer. Some forms of cancer increase substances in your blood that cause your blood to clot more aggressively. Some forms of cancer treatment also increase the risk of blood clots.
- Inflammatory bowel disease. Bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, increase the risk of DVT.
- Smoking puts you at great risk for developing DVT because chemicals in cigarettes make the blood cells “stickier” and more likely to clot up.
- Hospitalization or being confined to bed increases your risk of DVT because the long periods without movement can cause the blood to move less effectively than when the muscles in the legs are active.
- Age is another factor that can put you at risk. People who are over the age of 60 have a higher risk of developing DVT.
What Are The Warning Signs of DVT?
The signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are related to the obstruction of blood returning to the heart. This causes a backup of blood in the leg. Symptoms can include any of the following:
- Pain in the lower leg
- Swelling in the leg
- A warm sensation to the touch
- Leg cramps that often start in the calf
- Leg pain that worsens when bending the foot
DVT is typically diagnosed with ultrasound and is typically managed with anticoagulation medications, compression stockings and walking to reduce your risk of harm from DVT.
“I recently had varicose vein removal, and highly recommend Dr. Cutchen and staff. The process was well explained, professional and pretty painless. I will return for minor spider vein work soon. My legs look and feel MUCH better!” *
Take The Next Step
The best time to begin caring for your veins is now! Take the next step now by calling Albuquerque Vein & Laser Institute at 505-848-VEIN or fill out the form on this page and one of our staff members will reach out to you promptly. Albuquerque Vein & Laser Institute is located in the Journal Center area of Albuquerque and proudly serves vein patients throughout the entire Albuquerque area, as well as Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa, Los Lunas and other areas throughout New Mexico.
* This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician.