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What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

What is DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis? DVT refers to a blood clot that develops inside a larger vein, usually deep within the lower leg or thigh. Affecting up to half a million Americans each year and causing up to 100,000 deaths, the dangers of DVT is that part of the clot can break off and travel through the bloodstream, lodging into the lungs which cause blockage in blood flow, organ damage and death.


Symptoms usually occur in the area of the blood clot, which is usually the leg.
  • redness
  • swelling
  • tenderness or pain


anything that damages the inner lining of a vein may cause DVT including the following:
  • surgery
  • injury
  • immune system response
Other causes that raise the risk of DVT include:
  • genetic disorders
  • hormone changes
  • sitting for long periods of time (such as when flying)

Risk Factors:

Who’s at risk for DVT? People with a higher risk of DVT include:
  • people who have cancer
  • people who have had surgery
  • anyone on extended bed rest
  • the elderly
  • smokers
  • long-distance travelers
  • people who are overweight or obese

Diagnosing DVT:

An ultrasound is most often used to diagnose DVT. It uses sound waves to create a picture of blood flood in an area and can reveal a clot. Your healthcare provider will also examine you and ask questions about your medical history, medications you are taking, family history, and other medical factors that could raise your risks.

Treating DVT:

There are several ways to treat DVT, including the following:
  • Anticoagulants – Anticoagulants that make the blood thinner are the most common DVT treatment. They can be taken by pill or injection. They can’t break up an existing clot, but they can prevent new clots from forming, giving the body time to dissolve the clot on its own.
  • Clot Busters – medications that dissolve blood clots are called thrombolytics. They cause sudden, severe bleeding, so they are only used in emergencies. They are given by IV in a hospital.
  • Vena Cava Filter – this filter catches breakaway clots and prevents them from traveling to the lungs. The filter does not stop new clots from forming or cure DVT but can prevent a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
  • Compression Stockings – similar to long socks, these stockings apply pressure to keep the blood in the legs from pooling and clotting. They also reduce swelling and help relieve discomfort in legs where a clot has already formed.
  • Home Care – when at home, keep the affected leg raised when possible to reduce swelling and discomfort.

Preventing DVT:

Being active increases your blood flow and keeps it from pooling and clotting. When you’re not active, such as at your desk, take breaks to stretch your legs. Get up and walk around. Exercise also reduces the risk of obesity, which contributes to DVT risk. Source: WebMD at http://www.webmd.com/dvt/ss/slideshow-deep-vein-thrombosis-overview
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