Deep Vein Thrombosis

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition characterized by the development of blood clots in the deep veins of the body, often in the calves, thighs, abdomen or pelvis.

These clots can block the flow of blood in the veins, leading to pain, swelling and even sometimes tissue death. In severe cases, these clots can break away and move through the bloodstream, potentially causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis

The main causes of DVT include:

  • Prolonged sitting, either due to air travel or due to long bed rest
  • Certain surgeries, such as hip or knee replacements
  • Cancer and cancer treatments
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Injury to the veins, such as deep lacerations or a broken leg
  • Pregnancy
  • Cushings Syndrome
  • Inherited blood clotting disorders
  • Birth control
  • Family history of blood clots

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

The main symptom of DVT is pain in the affected area, usually the lower leg, which may be accompanied by localised swelling. This may be a sudden, sharp pain, or a dull ache.

Other signs and symptoms often found in individuals with DVT include:

  • Redness in the area of the clot
  • Warmth in the affected area
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle cramping or tenderness
  • Cyanosis (bluish discolouration of the skin)

Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Treatment for DVT usually starts with medications, such as anticoagulants or blood thinners, which reduce the risk of the clot growing larger and the likelihood of it travelling to other parts of the body.

In more severe cases, doctors may recommend other treatments, such as:

  • Vein filters, which are placed in the inferior vena cava (the largest vein in the body) to prevent clots from travelling to the lungs
  • Thrombolytics, which are medications that dissolve the clot
  • Surgery, which may be recommended if other treatments are not working

Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT can be prevented with lifestyle changes and medical interventions, such as:

  • Wearing compression stockings to reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Avoiding prolonged periods of immobility (sitting or lying down)
  • Exercising regularly to keep blood circulating
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking medications to reduce the risk of clots, such as anticoagulants or aspirin
  • Quitting smoking