Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common Name/Other Name

Deep venous thrombosis (Eng.)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition wherein a blood clot (thrombus) is found in one or more deep vein of the body, often in the lower extremities. Symptoms of DVT are usually nonspecific while some patients may not present any symptom. DVT can occur when the patient has an underlying condition that makes the blood easier to coagulate or if the patient has not moved for a long time.

Two complications can arise from untreated DVT. A blood clot that traveled along the bloodstream can reach the lungs and block a blood vessel leading to pulmonary embolism. This condition can be fatal. It presents with sudden onset of shortness of breath, chest pain that worsens with deep inhalation or coughing, lightheadedness, fainting, rapid pulse, and coughing up blood. Another complication of DVT is postphlebitic syndrome. The blood vessels are damaged by the blood clot which reduces blood flow to the affected area.  It presents with a common set of signs and symptoms which are swelling of the legs, leg pain, skin discoloration and skin sores.

Initial diagnosis is done through medical history and assessment of signs and symptoms. Further diagnostic tests to detect the blood clot include ultrasound, venography, CT scan and MRI scan.

Symptoms
  • Swelling in the affected leg
  • Pain and tenderness on the calf that feels like cramps or soreness
  • Severe and unexplained pain on the foot and ankle
  • Warm and red skin over the area of blood clot
  • Red skin especially at the back of the leg and below the knee
Risk Factors
  • Blood-clotting disorder. Some people can inherit a disorder that make the blood clot faster
  • Prolonged bed rest or sitting. Calf muscles do not contract when the leg does not move for a long period. Contraction of the muscles help circulate the blood to avoid blood clot formation.
  • Injury or surgery. Damage on the veins increase risk of blood clot formation
  • Pregnancy. The added weight increases the pressure on the pelvis and legs
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. These drugs improve blood-clotting
  • Heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Family history of DVT    
  • Age. Being older than 60 years old increases the risk of DVT
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Anticoagulants reduce the ability of blood to clot. These agents can prevent an existing clot from becoming bigger and the development of new blood clots. Anticoagulants are usually taken for at least three months. Heparin is usually given first through an injection as it can immediately prevent development of the existing clot. Oral warfarin is then prescribed to prevent further clot formation. Avoid green leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamin K when taking warfarin. Rivaroxaban and apixaban are newer types of anticoagulants that have less serious side effects. Side effects: excessive bleeding
  • Fibrinolytics dissolve existing clots through destruction of fibrin. The blood clot can be effectively dissolved if thrombolytics are given within 48 hours of clot formation. These drugs have the major side effect of serious bleeding so it is only prescribed during life-threatening situations. Examples of this drug class include anistreplase and reteplase. Possible risks: internal bleeding, damage to blood vessel

 

Treatment and Management
  • Compression stockings are used to prevent or minimize the swelling of affected legs. The stockings prevent the pooling of blood and reduces risk of developing postphlebitic syndrome. These extend from the feet to the knees.
  • Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are used as an alternative for anticoagulants. These are small mesh devices placed in a vein to trap fragments of blood clots  and prevent these from reaching the lungs and heart.
  • Move frequently to reduce the chances of developing blood clots.
  • When resting, place your feet at a higher position than your hips. This relieves the pressure on the veins and prevent blood pooling on the calf.
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
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