Deep Vein Thrombosis


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot in the deep veins of the human body, most commonly found in the leg veins. Deep veins are located within the muscles of the leg and a clot in these veins is not dangerous itself. The danger occurs when part of the clot breaks and travels through the heart and into the pulmonary circulatory system and becomes stuck in the lungs.

Some of the signs of DVT include pain, swelling, and redness in the leg, but very often there are no sign or symptoms at all. DVT does not necessarily become apparent until a pulmonary embolism occurs and it is not something that is easily detectable by a physical exam from a physician. DVT occurs in about 1 in 1000 people each year and about 1-5% of those will die from the complications, such as pulmonary embolism.

The most common cause of deep vein thrombosis is a recent surgery or hospital stay. This is why patients are often told to perform various leg exercises after their surgery has been completed, even from their bed. Walking is very important after surgery to decrease the risk of DVP. There are other factors that can contribute to DVP and some of these include age, weight, and infection. DVP does not usually occur in people under the age of 18. Air travel has also been linked to DVP due to factors such as air pressure, dehydration, and immobility. Anyone who travels long distances should get up and walk every couple of hours.

There are a number of treatments for DVP of which an anticoagulant is one of the most common. Patients suffering from deep vein thrombosis receive a treatment of heparin and warfarin in most cases as the anticoagulant treatment. Thrombolysis is another method which is also known as clot busting. This method stimulates the proteins that activate plasmin. Other treatments include compression stocking and inferior vena cava filter.