Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot, also known as a thrombus, forms in a vein deep within the body. Such clots most frequently form in the legs but may occur in other parts of the body. Blood clots can be caused by anything that prevents the blood from circulating normally or clotting properly. Deep vein thrombosis may be caused by extended periods of inactivity; in some cases, it may be the result of staying in bed during a long hospital stay or sitting for a long period of time on an airplane flight. An injury to a vein or certain medical conditions may also cause a blood clot to form. DVT is a serious condition that requires medical treatment, as a blood clot may travel to the blood vessels of the lungs, heart, or brain, causing serious complications which can be fatal.
Symptoms of DVT
DVT may initially occur with no noticeable symptoms at all. When symptoms occur, they may include:
- Red or discolored skin
- Swelling along the vein
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Pain or tenderness at the site
- Increased warmth in the area
In some cases, pain or tenderness in the leg may only be experienced when standing or walking.
Prevention of DVT
While not all cases of deep vein thrombosis can be avoided, there are several ways to lessen the risk of DVT or to slow the progression of the condition. A patient in danger of DVT may improve vascular health by:
- Remaining physically active
- Not sitting or standing in one place for too long
- Losing weight
- Managing blood pressure
- Refraining from smoking
When taking a long car or plane trip, walking or stretching the legs once in a while can help circulation. Patients should also take any prescription anticoagulant medications as directed by their doctor, to prevent complications from occurring.