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Deep Vein Thrombosis - Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

Deep Vein Thrombosis - Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention
Shweta Chaubey

Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where blood clots are formed in one or more of the deep veins in the body. It typically develops in the legs, thighs, and pelvis causing severe pain and swelling.

Often, DVT may occur with no symptoms. When the vein swells, the condition is called thrombophlebitis. Whereas, when a DVT breaks loose and blocks the blood flow in the lung, it is called pulmonary embolism (PE).

Venous Thrombosis Symptoms

DVT or VTE symptoms include -

  • Throbbing or cramps in one or both legs (usually in the calf and thigh), arms, or stomach.
  • Swelling in the affected area.
  • Inflammation of warmness around the affected area.
  • Red or darkened skin.
  • Swollen veins - hard or sore to touch.

Deep Venous Embolism Risk Factors

Many things can increase the risk of DVT. Some of the VTE risk factors include -

  • Age- Although DVT can occur to anybody, people older than 60 are most prone to developing a DVT.
  • Prolonged Sitting or Bed Rest- Muscle contractions help blood circulate. Remaining still for hours does not give your calf muscles enough room to contract.
  • Surgery or Injury- A surgery or a severe injury to the vein can augment the chances of blood clots.
  • PregnancyPregnancy puts excessive pressure on the pelvis and leg veins, leading to blood clotting. Women who have inherited clotting disorders are at a higher risk. The risk of blood clotting during the pregnancy continues for up to six weeks after the delivery.
  • ObesityBeing overweight puts pressure on the pelvis and leg veins resulting in blood clotting.
  • Smoking- Nicotine in cigarettes increases the count of blood platelets and makes them sticky, leading to them clumping together, which is a dangerous situation.
  • Cancer- Some types of cancer increase the elements in the blood that trigger blood clots. Moreover, some cancer treatments can also lead to blood clotting.
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Heart failure- Venous thromboembolism envelops deep vein thrombosis, and PE is a common and grave heart failure complication.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease- Bowel diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can also cause DVT.
  • Family History- If a family member has had a DVT or PE, the patient's chances of developing it rises.
  • Genetics- Factor V Leiden is a change in the genes that affect one of the clotting factors in the blood. It can enhance one's chance of developing abnormal blood clots, most probably in the legs or lungs. However, most people with factor V Leiden never develop abnormal clots. Sometimes, a blood clot can also occur without any apparent underlying risk factor; such an occurrence is called unprovoked VTE.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Complications

Complications of DVT may include -

  • Pulmonary embolism (PE)- When a blood clot formed in another part of the body travels up to the lungs and blocks the blood flow, the condition is pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary Embolism causes sudden shortness of breath, chest pain while inhaling or coughing, rapid breathing and pulsation, fainting, and occasional hemoptysis (coughing up blood). PE is a potentially life-threatening complication. It is always recommended to seek medical help at the earliest signs and symptoms.
  • Postphlebitic Syndrome - Postphlebitic or postthrombotic syndrome happens after deep venous thrombosis. It is asymptomatic chronic venous insufficiency caused due to venous hypertension, usually because of venous damage.
  • Treatment Complications- Blood thinners used to treat DVTs may cause bleeding (hemorrhage) complications. Regular blood tests while taking such medications is a way to keep a close eye on the side effects.

How to prevent Deep Venous Thrombosis?

Venous Thromboembolism is preventable provided one takes all the preventive measures such as - 

  • Keep Moving- A person who has had surgery or is on bed rest for some reason is prone to contracting DVT. Such a person should try moving as much as their body allows. Avoid sitting still for hours, every hour or so, stand up and stretch your body, walk around, so the blood flow is not hampered. Moreover, if walking around is not plausible, try some exercise for the lower legs. Raise and lower the heels while your toes touch the ground, then raise the toes with heels on the floor.
  • Constant Exercise and Weight Management- An obese person is much more likely to have DVT. Therefore, watching your body weight and keeping up with your regular exercise regime is a way to keep DVT at bay. It is all the more essential for people who travel frequently or sit for a large portion of their day.
  • Say No to Smoking.
  • Wear Compression Garments- Compression garments improve blood flow and reduce swelling and pain. They are highly recommended to prevent DVT as the compression provided by garments stops blood from pooling and clotting.

How do Compression Stockings work?

Compression stockings are different than ordinary stockings. These do not only protect your legs and offer a stylish look but also provide compression. They have an elastic fabric designed to fit tightly around the ankles, legs, and thighs. Medical compression stockings are tighter around the ankle and a little loose around the calf and thigh region. The pressure created due to the stockings pushes the fluid up the leg, allowing free blood flow from the legs to the heart. The amount of compression these stockings provide is recommended to prevent DVT since adequate compression does not let the blood pool and steady blood flow.

Despite being an underdiagnosed and serious medical condition, DVT, VTE, and PE are all preventable and treatable if diagnosed in the earliest stages. Look out for warning signs and symptoms and seek medical assistance at every point.


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HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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