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Deep Vein Thrombosis

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When blood moves too slowly in your veins

When blood moves too slowly in your veins, it can cause a clump of blood cells (a blood clot or Thrombus). Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in the deep vein located in the leg, thigh, or pelvis. While Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is common in the lower leg, it can also develop in other body parts, including the arms. So, how do blood clots form in the veins, and is it dangerous?

To answer this, let us look at how the blood circulates in the body. The blood circulatory system consists of two blood vessels, namely the arteries and veins. The arteries carry blood rich in nutrients and oxygen from the heart, while the veins carry the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Arteries have thin muscles within their walls that make them capable of withstanding the pumping pressure from the heart. However, the veins have no muscle lining and entirely depend on the muscle movement to take the blood back to the heart.

How do Blood Clots Form?

The venous system in the legs consists of two main veins, the superficial veins, and deep veins. As the name suggests, deep veins are located deep within the muscles. On the other hand, superficial veins are located just below the skin and are easily visible. Typically, the blood flows from the superficial veins into the deep venous system through perforator veins. Both the perforator and superficial veins have valves that allow blood to flow in one direction.

However, when blood travels slowly in the veins or pools in the veins, the platelets tend to stick together. While a blood clot (thrombus) in the deep venous system of your leg is not dangerous by itself, it can become life-threatening when it breaks and travels to enter the pulmonary vein. When the blood clot blocks a pulmonary artery, it decreases the amount of oxygen absorbed in the blood, causing a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is considered a medical emergency. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 10 – 30 percent of individuals who develop leg DVT experience life-threatening complications within a month of diagnosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis – Symptoms

Like other disorders that affect the venous system, some individuals with DVT may not notice any symptoms. However, if the symptoms develop, people with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may experience the following:

  • Sharp pain in the affected limb that starts in the calf
  • Red or discolored skin on the affected limb
  • Swelling in the affected limb
  • Enlarged veins
  • Increased warmth in the swollen, painful region

Most often, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) affects only one leg, although, on rare occasions, the condition may develop in both legs. If the blood clot (thrombus) breaks and travels up to the lung, a person suffering from pulmonary embolism may have the following symptoms;

  • Sudden breathlessness or slow breathing
  • Rapid breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain that worsens when breathing deeply

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Causes and Risk Factors

Sometimes, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) develops without a clear cause. However, according to findings done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), DVT occurs due to one or a combination of the following underlying conditions and risk factors.

Our body is not designed to stay in one position for extended periods. Long periods of inactivity cause the blood to pool in the pelvic and lower limb areas. For some people, the blood flow returns to normal functioning as soon as they perform physical activity. However, the extended periods of inactivity make the blood pool in the veins, increasing clots formation risks. Some of the things that may make a person stay inactive for extended periods include;

  • Extended hospital stays
  • Office work or during long flights that forces you to remain seated
  • Mobility disability that restricts movement
  • Being immobile at home
  • Remaining seated during a long journey, such as a flight
  • A disability that restricts movement

Surgery or an injury can damage the veins leading to slow blood flow, increasing the blood clots risk. The use of general anesthetics also tends to widen the veins, increasing the likelihood of blood pooling. Although there is an increased risk for anyone with major surgery, people undergoing hip surgery, knee surgery, or severe injuries in these regions have a heightened risk.

Individuals who may have inherited disorders such as Factor V Leiden thrombophilia that cause blood clots are also at high risk of contracting deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

During the development of the fetus, the pressure in the veins located in the woman’s leg and pelvic tends to increase. Studies show that women have an increased likelihood of contracting deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during pregnancy until about six months after delivery.

Certain cancerous conditions such as late-stage colon, breast, and pancreatic cancers also lead to a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Additionally, various cancer procedures and therapies such as chemotherapy, cancer surgeries, and central venous catheter increase the individual risk of contracting DVT.

Irritable bowel disease (IBD) is another condition that increases deep vein thrombosis (DVT) risks. Studies show that individuals with IBD have three-four times higher susceptibility rates than individuals without IBD.

Conditions that affect the heart’s performance pumping blood throughout the body can lead to clots and bleed. For instance, conditions such as congestive heart failure and heart attack can increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Excess weight and obesity put pressure on the blood vessels, especially those in the legs and pelvis. As such, these individuals have increased risks of contracting deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Tobacco smoking damages the vein’s interior, leading to various venous diseases, including deep vein thrombosis.

The varicose veins are another condition that can lead to DVT. Varicose veins cause blood to pool in the veins, increasing the chance of clots formation.

Staying seated for an extended period creates lax in the muscles in your lower legs, making it hard for blood to circulate.

While DVT can affect both men and women at any age, individuals over the age of 40 are at an increased risk.

Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy has estrogen that raises the ability of blood clotting.

Infection in your veins and veins can lead to DVT. Inflammation is also a significant contributor to the development of this condition. High cholesterol also puts you at increased risk.

Deep Vein Thrombosis – Diagnosis

Deep vein thrombosis leads to various health cases, including life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary embolism.

If you suspect that you have any of the discussed symptoms, seeking immediate medical intervention is crucial. Your physician will ask you various questions about your medical history and symptoms before performing a physical examination. Some of the tests that help the doctor in diagnosing the condition include:

Ultrasound

An ultrasound test is effective in detecting blood flow alteration and blood clots. The doctor uses a handheld device that sends sound waves into the blood vessels and displays the picture on a computer showing the condition of your blood veins.

Venogram

To get a clearer picture, the doctor may request a venogram. The procedure involves the injection of a special dye that makes the veins appear on X-ray images.

Deep Vein Thrombosis – Complications

As mentioned, DVT can lead to life-threatening conditions. The main DVT complications include:

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

PE is a severe DVT complication that develops if a blood clot travels through the blood vessels and reaches the lungs. When the blood clot is stuck, it disrupts the flow of blood into the lungs. A medium-sized clot can lead to intense chest pain and breathing problems. In more severe cases, the lungs can collapse and even lead to heart failure.

Post-Thrombotic Syndrome

People with recurrent DVT are at high risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. An individual with this condition might experience the following symptoms.

  • A feeling of heaviness in the leg
  • Swelling in the calf that doesn’t go down
  • Having fatigued legs
  • A pulling sensation in the affected limb
  • Development of new varicose veins
  • Skin discoloration/redness on the affected leg
  • Fluid buildup in the affected limb
  • Skin thickening and sometimes ulcer on the affected leg

Treatments for Deep Vein Thrombosis

Unlike varicose veins, spider veins are harmless. Most people seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. However, treatment will also alleviate the mild yet persistent discomfort this condition sometimes causes. In lighter cases of DVT, the vascular specialist will try natural treatments with medications and compression stockings. If those treatments don’t work, the specialist will do minimally invasive treatments of IVC Filter Placement & Removal, Thrombectomy and Thrombolysis.

Our Vascular Disease Physicians

The physicians at Pedes Orange County devote their lives to saving limbs and minimizing pain. Our conveniently located, state-of-the-art facility is designed for your comfort and utilizes cutting-edge technology to provide minimally invasive treatments. Our vascular surgeons and vascular specialists are board-certified and some of the best in Southern California. Personable staff members make every visit a positive experience, with short wait times and an efficient, streamlined process that ensures you leave feeling educated and confident that you are in good hands.

J. Joseph Hewett, M.D.

Vascular Specialist

Neil K. Goldstein, M.D.

Vascular Specialist

Derrick Tran, MD

Vascular Specialist

Mohammad Jaber, M.D.

Vascular Surgeon

Why Pedes Orange County?

Living with deep vein thrombosis symptoms can disrupt the quality of your life. While some may not experience the symptoms, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can lead to life-threatening conditions. At Pedes Orange County, we have a dedicated team of experts specializing in treating DVT. We prioritize your experience to ensure that you get a customized treatment that meets your needs. Our friendly physicians will discuss the steps to relieve the symptoms and stop the condition from progressing from your first visit.

Each treatment plan is individualized depending on the disease stage and other underlying conditions. Additionally, you do not have to worry much about the payment. Most medical plans cover deep vein thrombosis. Before treatment, our staff will talk to your insurance cover or secure the medical coverage whenever possible. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today, and we will walk with you every step of the way to ensuring that your health is restored.

What to Expect from Your Visit to Pedes

Ultrasound

Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.

Consult

Once we review the results of your diagnostic tests, our physicians will help you develop a plan to provide you with the best treatment for your disease.

Treatment

Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.

Follow up

Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.

Treatment Options

Learn more about our treatment options

What to Expect

Learn more about our what to expect

Vascular Disease

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