Do you believe that you may be suffering from deep vein thrombosis or DVT? This can become a serious condition that could potentially pose a threat to your life. Luckily, there are many treatments available that can assist with DVT. All you need to do is visit our vein specialist for a consultation. First, however, you need to know what DVT is, its symptoms, and what possible treatments there are.
What is DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis involves the situation in which a blood clot has formed in the body. The most common areas for blood clots to form are in the legs or thighs. The reason that this is a problem is that the blood clot can eventually break away from the vein. It can travel up your body and into your lung. When a blood clot exists in your lung, it’s called pulmonary embolism. The presence of the clot can cause considerable damage to your lung. It is unable to receive oxygen because the clot is blocking the passageways into the lung.
With this decrease in oxygen, the rest of your body is deprived of oxygen, too. As a result, those organs might start to fail or can become damaged without the presence of consistent oxygen flow. In the case where clots are quite large, it can even end your life. Even a series of smaller clots can result in a life-threatening situation.
Clearly, DVT is nothing to take lightly. It can also be quite difficult to detect. This is because DVT occurs in the deep veins. These are different from the veins that rest close to your skin. Deep veins are essentially that–deep in the body. They’re actually located within the muscles. Because of their presence deep in the muscle, a vein specialist is typically the only one who can determine whether you have DVT or not.
Typically, the symptoms of DVT are not noticeable. However, if the clot is large enough, you may notice a few things. The first is that you may notice the area is beginning to swell. Since DVT is most popular in the lower legs and thighs, you’ll likely notice that the swelling is occurring in your calves. This area may also be tender to the touch. It can cause some amount of pain.
Another symptom that you may notice due to the clot is distended veins. This is when veins are extremely noticeable beneath the skin. The pressure of the clot can cause the veins to rise closer to the skin. You may also notice that your skin has turned a red color or is discolored. This can be either at the site of the clot or the area below it because it is being starved of blood and oxygen. Finally, you may feel as though your veins are hardening. This instance is called a cord.
Most often, the only symptoms that you will notice are when the clot has finally traveled to the lung. Some of the symptoms of pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath or coughing. This is because the lung is unable to receive an adequate amount of oxygen. This can become so severe that you may undergo chest pains. If the clot is particularly large or there are a lot of them, then you may start to cough up blood. This could be because the clot has entered the lung rather than just blocking it.
However, having a clot in your body before it has traveled to the lung can be difficult to detect. It’s a silent killer just waiting to break off and threaten your lungs. Vein specialists have pointed to a few different possible causes behind DVT.
Causes of DVT
The development of blood clots typically has to do with how well blood flows through the body. If there is a problem which disrupts blood flow, then the chances of developing blood clots, and thus DVT, increases. Some of these factors can lead to the formation of DVT.
One unfortunate factor is age. As you grow older, the likelihood of developing blood clots increases. This is simply because as more time goes on, your veins have a longer history of plaque build-up and other problems that can cause them to become clogged or clotted.
Those families who have a history of DVT may also be at greater risk for developing DVT in life. This is likely because certain genes that code for healthy veins may not be passed down if they don’t exist.
If you have ever suffered from cancer or are suffering from cancer, then you are also at risk of developing DVT. Those cancers can cause growths to form, which can press on veins. This can disrupt blood flow and form clots.
Perhaps an obvious factor is the existence of vein problems. Those who suffer from varicose veins, for example, may be in danger of developing DVT. This is because the veins are already under a lot of stress. There’s a clear indication that blood flow is not normal. Varicose veins themselves can disrupt the blood flow and form a clot.
Another risk factor for DVT is smoking. The harsh and toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke can tighten the veins and cause abnormalities in the blood. Smoking can also cause problems in the lungs. If a blood clot makes contact with an already diseased lung from smoking, this can cause quite a lethal situation. An unfortunate side effect of some birth control pills and hormone therapy can be a factor of DVT.
Pregnancy can lead to DVT, too. This is likely due to the weight of the baby. Blood flow is increased in a woman when she is pregnant. With hormones altered dramatically, if the veins aren’t already healthy, a blood clot can form.
Lifestyle factors like being obese or overweight can also increase the chances of developing DVT. The more stress that you place on your body, the worse off your veins are. Diet can play a part in the health of your veins. Foods that lead to the development of plaque in your blood can make clots more common. Obesity and plaque typically have a positive relationship. The more obese someone is, the more likely they are to have a substantial amount of plaque in their veins.
Clearly, if you inherit a blood clot disorder, then you are more likely to develop DVT. In some cases, people are more likely to form blood clots in their bodies simply due to a disorder that they have. Those people are at risk of developing a clot deep in their veins that can then travel to their lungs.
Another possible factor that can contribute to DVT is if you have ever had a hip or leg injury. This can alter the blood flow in your body and make it more difficult for your veins to function normally. Even those who have had a hip or knee replacement are at risk for developing DVT because of the surgery. It can be easier to form clots because of blood flow that has become slower, damage that has been done to the veins either through injury or the surgery, or because of hypercoagulation.
How DVT is Tested
A vein specialist can test your body to determine if you have DVT. The most popular test is duplex ultrasound. By using the technology behind ultrasounds and Doppler technology, the vein specialist is able to display a picture of your veins. We can then examine your veins to look for problems or a possible clot formation. Perhaps one of the best aspects of the duplex ultrasound is that it can be given frequently. It’s non-invasive and simple. It also doesn’t include the use of radiation, so it can be performed multiple times without harming the body.
If the vein specialist needs to examine your pelvis or hip, then we may choose to have an MRI performed on your body. This allows us to take a look at your blood vessels and veins of both your legs and the surrounding area at once. The picture is basically a cross-sectional of the area.
There are a few overall goals that a vein specialist is looking to achieve during a DVT treatment. They want to ensure that the clot stops getting bigger. They also want to prevent the clot from moving through the body and into the lung. Besides that, they also want to ensure that another clot cannot be easily formed–if formed at all. Then they wish to minimize any other harmful effects that the abnormal blood flow may be doing to the rest of your body.
Luckily, most of the treatments for DVT are non-invasive, though there is one option for a surgical treatment. One method is to use anticoagulants. These are blood thinners that can basically thin out the blood and remove the clot. You will likely be monitored quite closely during this procedure to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Another treatment that a vein specialist may decide to use is thrombolytics. This is a medication specifically designed to dissolve blood clots. They’re injected through a catheter that is then placed directly into the clot. This treatment is typically only used in cases where the chances of developing pulmonary embolism are extremely high.
There are a few methods that you can utilize to help prevent your body from developing DVT. The most obvious is to stay healthy. Exercise often, eat vegetables and fruits, and stay at a healthy weight. By limiting the risk of being overweight or obese and eating foods that don’t lead to plaque build-up in your veins, you can keep the blood flow in your body normal.
DVT is a serious condition that can result in death. The only way to know if you’re suffering from DVT is to get checked out by an experienced vein specialist. Look no further than our expert team at R Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View. Contact us today to book your consultation!