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What are Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body. This can happen if a vein becomes damaged or if the blood flow within the vein slows down or stops.

A DVT can have serious consequences. If a blood clot breaks free, it may travel through the bloodstream and block blood flow to the lungs. Although rare, this complication – called a pulmonary embolism, can be fatal. Even if a blood clot does not break free, it may cause permanent damage to the valves of the vein. This damage can lead to long-term problems in the leg such as pain, swelling, and leg sores.

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Risk for developing blood clots:

  • Increasing age
  • Personal or family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
  • Having certain types of malignant cancers
  • Having a vein disease, such as varicose veins
  • Smoking
  • Birth Control or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Pregnancy
  • Overweight / Obesity
  • Inheriting a blood clotting disorder

Symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Distended veins
  • Red or discolored skin
  • A firmness or thickening of the vein called a “cord”

Diagnose and Management:

  • Blood Thinners – also known as anticoagulants, are the most common medicines used for treating DVT. They prevent blood clots from getting larger by decreasing your blood’s ability to clot.  Over time, your body works with the blood thinner to decrease the size and consistency of the clot.  Blood thinners can be taken as a pill, as an injection or through an IV.  Blood thinners can increase your chance of bleeding, so follow up with your physician is necessary.
  • Thrombolytic Therapy – is sometimes used to quickly dissolve a clot, especially if the clot is large and causing severe symptoms. This treatment brings a much higher risk of bleeding than blood thinners, so it is not used unless truly necessary.
  • IVC Filter – is placed inside the inferior vena cava, one of the largest veins in the body, may be an option. The filter does not stop a blood clot from forming, but can prevent a large clot from entering your lungs.

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