Mid-Atlantic Surgical Group
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep Vein Thrombosis, otherwise reffered to as DVT or blood clot, develops when the blood thickens and clumps together causing a clot in the deep veins of the body, most commonly this occurs in the legs.
Who is at higher risk of developing DVT?
People that are at higher risk of DVT are those who:
- Have Family History of Blood-Clotting Condition(s)
- Have/Had Surgery
- Have/Had injury to their veins
- Are inactive, due to things like bed rest, long/constant travel, long hospital stay(s), paralysis, etc.
- Are Overweight, Obese
- Have Heart Failure
- Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Are over the age of 60
Why Treat DVT?
DVT can be life threatening if left untreated.
A piece of the clot can break off and travel throughout the body, this is especially dangerous when a clot makes its way to the heart and lungs where you could develop pulmonary embolism.
Pulmonary embolism occurs when an artery in the lungs becomes blocked, this can result in difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, and in some serious cases, death if left untreated.
Treatment Options for DVT
DVT prevention is the best course of action you can take to have the best outcome, especially if you are one who is at higher risk of developing DVT.
1). Lifestyle Modification
The best way to try to prevent DVT is to stay active, you need to help keep your blood flowing to avoid clotting. Doing simple things like getting up and walking around every hour or so can be very beneficial, if you cannot walk due to a surgery or injury try to keep your legs elevated above heart level to avoid blood pooling and if possible do some sitting calf exercises. Making other lifestyle changes can also be beneficial like quitting smoking and losing any excess weight you may have as these both play a factor in blood circulation and can contribute to blood clotting.
2). Compression Stockings
Along with lifestyle changes compression stockings are also used for DVT treatment. If you have significant swelling caused by DVT compression stockings can help relieve some symptoms caused by the swelling. Compression stockings apply even pressure to keep blood from pooling and clotting.
3). Anticoagulation Therapy
The most common treatment for patients with DVT is the use of a blood thinner or anticoagulant. Blood thinners help to prevent current clots from growing and to prevent any further clotting. They work by thinning the blood which makes it easier for the blood to move through the veins therefore reducing the likelihood of blood clotting. There are many different types of anticoagulants and your doctor will determine which is best for you based on your current medical condition and other health factors.
4). IVC Filter Placement
Depending on the severity of DVT, where they are located in your body, and how you tolerate blood thinners sometimes a filter placement is necessary to prevent pulmonary embolism.