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    Filter Diseases & Condition

    Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

    • Overview

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      If you experience leg pain or swelling, it could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT happens when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, typically in your legs. It’s possible to have DVT without noticeable symptoms.

      Certain medical conditions can cause DVT by affecting how your blood clots. However, it can also develop if you don’t move for an extended period. This may happen during long-distance travel or if you’re on bed rest after surgery, illness, or an accident.

      DVT is a serious condition because blood clots in your veins can break free and travel through your bloodstream. If a clot gets stuck in your lungs, it can block blood flow and cause a pulmonary embolism. It’s known as venous thromboembolism (VTE) when DVT and pulmonary embolism occur together.

    • Symptoms

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      If you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you may experience some of these symptoms: swelling in your leg, pain, cramps, or soreness in your calf, a change in skin colour on your leg (usually red or purple), and a feeling of warmth on the affected area. However, it’s possible to have DVT without any noticeable symptoms.

    • When to see a doctor

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      If you experience symptoms of DVT, getting in touch with your healthcare provider is essential. In the event of pulmonary embolism (PE), a dangerous complication of deep vein thrombosis, seek emergency medical assistance immediately. The signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort that intensifies while taking deep breaths or coughing, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, fainting, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, and coughing up blood.

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    • Causes

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      Various factors may lead to the formation of a blood clot, including any obstruction or impairment in blood flow or the clotting process. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is primarily caused by vein damage due to surgery or inflammation and damage caused by injury or infection.

    • Risk factors

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      Various factors can increase the likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The more risk factors present, the higher the chance of DVT. Some of the risk factors for DVT include:

      – Age: people over 60 are at a higher risk of DVT. However, it can happen at any age.
      – Lack of movement: when the legs are stationary for long periods, the calf muscles don’t contract, hindering blood flow. Sitting for extended periods while driving or flying can increase the chances of DVT. Likewise, long-term bed rest due to a hospital stay or a medical condition like paralysis can also increase the risk.
      – Injury or surgery: damage to veins or a surgical procedure can elevate the risk of blood clots.
      – Pregnancy: the pressure on veins in the pelvis and legs increases during pregnancy, leading to an increased risk of blood clots. The risk can continue for up to six weeks after childbirth. People with inherited clotting disorders are especially susceptible.
      – Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can increase the blood’s potential to clot.
      – Being overweight or obese: excess weight puts extra pressure on the veins in the pelvis and legs.
      – Smoking: Smoking affects blood flow and clotting, increasing the risk of DVT.
      – Cancer: some types of cancer can trigger substances that prompt blood clots. Specific cancer treatments can also heighten the risk of blood clots.
      – Heart failure: people with heart failure are at more risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism. As the heart and lungs don’t function optimally, even a minor pulmonary embolism can cause noticeable symptoms.
      – Inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of DVT.
      – Personal or family history of DVT or PE: if you or someone in your family has had one or both conditions, you might be at greater risk of developing DVT.
      – Genetics: some individuals have DNA mutations that cause the blood to clot more efficiently, such as factor V Leiden. This inherited disorder alters one of the clotting factors in
      the blood. An inherited disorder alone may not cause blood clots unless combined with other risk factors.

      Sometimes, a blood clot can occur in a vein without identifiable risk factors. This is referred to as an unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE).

    • Prevention

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      You can make various lifestyle changes to help prevent deep vein thrombosis. Firstly, moving your legs often is essential, especially if you’ve had surgery or been on bed rest. Avoid crossing your legs while sitting, as this can block blood flow. If you’re travelling, take breaks and stretch your legs. If you’re on a plane, stand or walk every so often. If you’re travelling by car, stop every hour or so and walk around. If you ca unable to walk, do lower leg exercises such as raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor and then raising your toes while keeping your toes on the floor.

      Additionally, it’s essential to avoid smoking as this increases the risk of DVT. Managing weight is also crucial, as obesity is a risk factor for DVT. Regular exercise can lower the risk of blood clots, so aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. You may need to exercise more if you’re looking to lose weight, maintain weight loss, or reach specific fitness goals.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 14/08/2023