Veins in our body, unlike arteries, are not lined internally with tiny muscles to bear up the pressure of blood pumped by the heart to the extremities of the body. Blood distributed to areas within our body need to be pumped back to the heart, but veins do not have such a mechanism to do so. Thus, blood is returned to the heart via physical activity within the body’s physiology where muscles when active pressurize and contract veins. The contraction and activity cause blood to flow back to the heart.
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that arises from blood clots that may occur in the deep veins within leg muscles. The body has two sets of veins. The superficial veins found just below the skin surface and those that are found deeper within muscles. It is here that deep vein thrombosis can occur when a blood clot travels through the veins and arterial system including the heart and lodges itself in the lungs. It is then that such a condition called deep vein thrombosis can become life threatening.
Clots remaining in the deep vein system are not likely to cause the disease; clots in the superficial vein system are also not a life threatening condition where the perforators in superficial veins prevent clots from entering into the venous system.
Causes and Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis
The main activity of blood is to flow throughout the body carrying oxygen and nutrients, blood remaining stagnant due to clogged systems and external factors form clots. Micro clots are broken down by the system, but larger ones are stubborn enough to retain their composition and travel downstream.
Below are the Few Causes and Risk factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Prolonged periods of immobility
- Hospitalization and surgery
- Lower leg trauma due to injury surgery and casting
- Birth control pills,
- Leg fractures, and bruises
- Any invasive procedure affecting veins
- Increased coagulation of blood
- Old age
Facts Regarding Blood Clots and How They Lead To DVT
Blood clotting is a natural physiological symptom of our body resulting from injuries. Without the body’s natural ability to blood clot, a simple wound could cause one to bleed to death. Thus, a blood clot is also meant for the prevention of excess bleeding. However, blood clot appearing in places which they aren’t supposed to be causes the potential risk of DVT. The most natural occurrence of DVT is in the lower extremities such as the calves and sometimes thighs.
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Inflammation as a result of blood clots usually tend to result in inflammatory symptoms. Which are quite similar to the symptoms caused by regular inflammation.Few are as follows:
- Feeling of warmth and burning sensation in the calves and inflamed area
- Redness prolonging to darkening of skin around the affected clot
- Tenderness and swelling
- Varicose veins – Veins become enlarged and also twisted at times
Overview of Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms
In some conditions of DVT, veins can start bulging and look like a thick cord. Old age is another problem that can cause veins to stretch due to rigidity. In such conditions, valves fail causing veins to swell and distort. It has been often found that Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms can be confused with conditions of cellulitis or an ordinary infection. Thus when there is any sign of swelling in the foot or leg along with redness which is resulting in pain, a doctor should be immediately consulted.
In any of the above Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms discussed, if there is associate chest pain, palpitations or shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, there is a possibility that the condition of pulmonary embolism may be present in which case immediate diagnosis and medical attention are required.
Diagnostic Procedures of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Ultrasound: The standard USG is extremely effective in detecting DVT. The ultrasound can detect the presence and location of a clot. A USG can also detect the dimensions or size of the clot. A number of USGs done at regular intervals can also decipher if the clot has reduced or grown larger.
- D-dimer: A D-dimer test is a type of blood testing process to determine the presence of blood clots. This is based on the presence of D-dimer in the body. D-dimer is basically a chemical produced as a result of blood clots in the body thus negative or positive testing determines the result. However, D-dimer is used in selective cases as the chemical is also present in conditions like surgery and pregnancy.
Deep Vein Thrombosis and Its Connection to Pulmonary Embolism?
If left undetected, DVT can lead to Pulmonary Embolism. This is by far one of the most serious consequences of Deep Venous Thrombosis. If a DVT blood clot is left to enlarge without treatment, a part of it can break away traveling to the lungs. It then obstructs the flow of blood thus resulting in inadequate oxygen distribution throughout the body. It is a known fact that in the USA alone, approx. 100,000 people diagnosed late with DVT die of pulmonary Embolism.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism
- Increased pulse rates
- Excessive sweating
- Sharp pains in the chest
- Difficulty in breathing
- Blood in sputum
- Dizziness and fainting
The Risks of Pulmonary embolism though fatal can be reduced considerably with early detection of DVT and timely treatment. Medication like Coumadin and heparin are known blood thinners which are widely used for prevention of clotting. Regular prescribed dosages can prevent the condition of Pulmonary Embolism.
Additional Complications of DVT
Besides Pulmonary embolism, DVT can also lead to complications such as Post phlebitic syndrome. The infected area of the leg shows signs of discoloration, which later becomes permanent. Ulcers are also liable to form around the ankle area in such conditions. DVT Patients are unable to consume blood thinners and ultimately need to resort to invasive surgery which is the last option to treat DVT. This involves placement of an IVC or inferior vena Cava which is a filter for the prevention of recurring blood clots from affecting the lung.
Deep Vein Thrombosis as seen from above risk factors majorly results from unhealthy lifestyles. A healthy diet free from bad cholesterol and fat inducing substances as well as regular exercise or physical activity can help prevent such diseases from occurring or to a major extent.
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