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Deep Vein Thrombosis DVT
Symptoms and Meaning Of DVT
What is deep vein thrombosis or dvt?
Deep vein thrombosis is often referred to as dvt and before we discuss this condition we will need to understand the meaning of thrombosis. Medically, thrombosis is the formation of a solid blood clot in a vein or artery. The process of blood clotting in thrombosis is similar to what happens when normal blood clotting occurs due to an external injury or skin abrasion. The dangerous thing about thrombosis is that the blood clot occurs inside an artery or vein.
Thrombosis that affects the coronary artery could cause a heart attack as the coronoary artery brings blood to the heart muscles. A blood clot in this important artery would starve the heart muscles of blood and oxygen and can be fatal. Similarly a blood clot in an artery connected to the brain could result in a stroke.
With this general understanding about thrombosis, let us now try to explain the meaning of dvt or deep vein thrombosis in a simple and non-technical way. Dvt is a specific type of thrombosis where the blood clot is formed in a vein deep inside the body. This is how the medical term deep vein thrombosis is derived. In most cases deep vein clots occur in the thighs or lower leg portion. However, dvt can occur in other parts of the body too. Deep vein thrombosis is disctinctly different from a blood clot that close to the surface of the skin.
Why is deep vein thrombosis dangerous?
Blood clots in the deep veins are very dangerous because they sometimes break into smaller parts and travel through the blood stream. Superficial blood clots are not as dangerous as dvt because these clots cannot move to vital organs. A deep vein blood clot travelling through the vein could reach a vital organ like the heart or lungs. The damage caused by the dvt blood clot in such cases could be life threatening.
The blood clot could travel to the lungs and result in death, this condition is medically referred to as pulmonary embolism. We mentioned that deep vein clots generally occur in the thighs or lower legs and in some cases, other parts of the body. It has been observed that deep vein thrombosis where the clots occur in the thigh, is more likely to result in parts of the blood clot travelling to the lungs. Another fact that makes dvt very dangerous is that the signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are not easily recognized. Patients could mistake the symptoms of dvt with simple leg pain or fatigue (shortness of breathe). In many cases patients report no symptoms or signs of any blood circulation at all.
Another complication that could occur after dvt is due to the thrombosis destroying the valves in the vein. The blood that is supposed to flow upwards, collects in the lower leg and causes a swelling. Ulcers could occur and the pain can get very severe.
Symptoms, dvt or deep vein thrombosis?
Here is a list of signs and symptoms for deep vein thrombosis. If you have any doubt, contact your doctor and do not wait for the signs to become clearer or severe.
Many of the symptoms of dvt are similar to signs for other diseases and this makes a clear diagnosis quite difficult. For this reason, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible when in doubt, this increases the chances of timely diagnosis and can help reduce the level of danger that the condition could create.
It is easy to believe that lack of mobility for prolonged periods can cause the blood flow to be restricted and result in blood clots. For this reason, long distance travel by air, road and rail could result in deep vein thrombosis. The problem in this case, is the long periods of immobility that could be 3 hours or more. On long haul flights (3 hours or more), it is very likely that passengers sit still with not much of physical movement. This could cause deep vein clots to form in the thigh (calf) region, there is a likelihood of these clots travelling to the lungs thus proving to be dangerous.
It is not very clear whether air travel can be the direct cause of dvt or, just trigger a deep vein thrombosis condition where other risk factors are already present. However, since immobility is recognized as one of the possible causes of dvt we will provide a few useful suggestions for people travelling on long haul flights.
(a) Excercise your legs every 2-3 hours, when travelling on a plane walk up and down the aisle a couple of times every 2-3 hours. This will help blood circulation and reduce the chances of the blood remaining still and clotting. Remember that deep vein thrombosis causing blood clotting in the thighs and calves can be very dangerous.
(b) Tight clothing could restrict movement and this in turn affects blood circulation. Wear loose clothing when travelling, this is comfortable and also safer than tight trousers or other garments.
(c) The muscles in the lower part of the leg help to pump blood. A few simple excercises can help increase leg blood circulation. Remain seated and keep your heals touching the ground, now raise the front portion of your feet (toes) towards your knees. Then put the entire foot on the floor and relax for a few seconds, repeat these steps a dozen times. Next, keep the front portion of your feet planted on the floor and raise the heels up. Relax and put the entire foot on the floor and then repeat the steps a dozen times. Do these two sets of excercises every 2 hours when sitting on long haul flights. This will help to pump the blood upwards rather than collect in the region of the lower leg.
(d) While dehydration could accelerate a deep vein thrombosis condition, it is not advisable to drink alchohol, tea, coffee or carbonated drinks when flying. Instead, drink plenty of water or fruit juices as these provide required fluid to the body without the dangers that alchohol and caffeinated drinks bring.
(e) If you have some of the risk factors related to dvt, talk to your doctor about wearing compressed stockings when flying. These stockings help to push the blood from the lower part of the leg in the upward direction. Discuss this with your doctor and get the recommended stockings in the right size.
The above suggestions for reducing the chances of getting a dvt will be useful for everyone who sits for long hours. If you are driving a car, stop the car every 2-3 hours and take a short walk before continuing your journey. In any case, if you develop a pain in your legs or have a breathing problem after or during your journey, seek medical assistance immediately.
What are the risk factors for dvt?
The chances of getting deep vein thrombosis is increased under certain conditions. The underlying cause of dvt is a damaged vein where blood flow either slows down or stops. It does not mean that everyone with these conditions would end up with dvt, however knowing the risk factors helps in alerting an individual when symptoms (however mild) are noticed.
(a) Regarding the relationship between air travel and deep vein thrombosis, we have already discussed the issue above and urge you to read the details carefully. Medical experts are not very sure whether air travel could be the direct cause of dvt or merely increase the chances of a dvt when other risk factors are present.
(b) People above the age of 40 are believed to be at a greater risk of direct vein thrombosis. This means that you should give higher attention to any signs of symptoms that could point to a dvt if you are above the age of 40.
(c) A person with a previous history of a dvt is at a higher risk of getting a repeated occurence. A family history of deep vein thrombosis could be another risk factor.
(d) There are a few other diseases that cause the blood to clot more easily than normal. Since dvt is directly related to blood clotting, the presence of such diseases in a person is a risk factor.
(e) Immobility could increase the chances of blood clotting and result in a deep vein thrombosis. Immobility could occur due to a very sedantary lifestyle, long hours of sitting or driving, being bedridden with sickness.
(f) Taking oestrogen containing contraceptive pills is also considered to be a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis. This problem has been resolved to a large extent as pharmaceutical companies now make pills with very low levels of oestrogen. This reduces the level of risk for most people.
(g) Pregnant ladies or ladies who have recently delivered a baby could be at a higher risk.
(h) Certain cancer treatments are also known to increase the risks of deep vein thrombosis.
(i) A person with blood circulation or heart problems would most probably be under medication. Some medicines used to treat these conditions are known to be risk factors too.
You will notice that there are many risk factors for deep vein thrombosis listed above, do not get alarmed if you believe that you have one or more of these risks. Consult your doctor and take medication and other precautions as prescribed. Make it a point to meet your doctor, before making a long journey or indulging in any other work where mobility could be restricted. Make sure that you read the paragraph (above) regarding signs and symptoms of dvt and contact your doctor immediately, if you experience even minor signs of any symptoms.
In general, you could reduce the risk of getting a dvt by excercising regularly. At least take a 30 minute walk each day to excercise your legs and keep your blood circulation in good shape. If you work on a desk job and are seated for long hours, stretch your legs and take a small walk for five minutes after every hour.
Deep vein thrombosis treatment
Since this article is compiled to provide general information regarding deep vein thrombosis, we will not get into indepth details about the treatment for dvt. All treatments for deep vein thrombosis are directed towards managing the blood clots generated by this condition. Emphasis is given to control the size of the clots and trying to prevent them from increasing in size, stopping the blood clot from moving freely and travelling to the lungs and preventing new clots from forming. Treatments have also been developed to provide better care to people who have already suffered from DVT.
Anticoagulant medications are given to people with a high risk of deep vein thrombosis. These medications help by reducing the chances of blood clotting abnormally fast. Since the medication interferes with the blood clotting process, any physical injury that occurs during the time that the patient is under medication should be reported to the doctor immediately.
Severe cases of blood clotting in veins might have to be treated by using thrombolytics. These medications work to dissolve existing blood clots and are one form of treatment for dvt in severe cases. These medicines carry a high risk of bleeding and are therefore rarely used in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis. .
Compression stockings are sometimes recommended by doctors. This helps to reduce the pain and swelling that could occur in patients suffering from dvt. This treatment for dvt should also be given under medical supervision as the stockings might have to be worn for many months or even a year.
In brief: Deep vein thrombosis or dvt, is a specific case of thrombosis. Thrombosis refers to a blood clot being formed in the vein and this clotting is referred to as deep vein thrombosis if it occurs in one of the deeper veins of the body. There are a few signs and symptoms for dvt, but in many
This report on deep vein thrombosis or dvt is for information purposes only. Medical experts will provide the best treatment for dvt and constant medical advancements are being made to detect signs and symptoms of dvt or deep vein thrombosis.
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