The term “deep vein thrombosis” refers to blood clots that occur in deep veins, often in the legs, although they can occur in other areas as well. Blood clots can cause pain and other symptoms, but in some cases there are no symptoms. These clots sometimes disappear on their own, but there are major risks associated with them, the most serious being that a blood clot can break free and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Symptoms of Blood Clot
As mentioned above, blood clots sometimes have no obvious symptoms. When symptoms do occur, common ones are swelling in the affected leg or area, pain in area, and/or redness and warmth. If any of these symptoms are experienced, please see a doctor right away.
It’s also important to be aware of the signs of a pulmonary embolism, in case a clot were to break free. These symptoms include chest pain that worsens when the person coughs or takes a deep breath, a sudden and unexplained shortness of breath, and producing blood when coughing, according to the Mayo Clinic in their staff article, “Deep Vein Thrombosis,” on August 8, 2009. Other signs to be aware of are feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or unexplained fainting.
Causes and Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis
People are more likely to experience blood clots if they are immobile for long periods, such as during long car or plane rides, or when on bed rest because of illness or injury. Certain inherited blood clotting disorders can also put people at risk for deep vein thrombosis. Those who have a personal history of blood clots are also more likely to get them again.
Certain lifestyle factors also put a person more at risk for blood clots. For instance, smoking, being overweight, taking birth control pills and being pregnant all put someone at higher risk of getting clots. People who have heart failure are also more likely to develop blood clots.
To reduce the risk of developing blood clots, avoid long periods of being immobile as much as possible, lose excess weight, quit smoking and control blood pressure, as high blood pressure also increases deep vein thrombosis risk.
For those who have already had blood clots, make sure to see a doctor regularly and take any prescribed medications exactly as directed. Ask the doctor about guidelines for vitamin K intake, as it may be recommended to limit foods that are high in vitamin K, such as soybean products and leafy green vegetables.
Treatments for Blood Clots
One of the most common treatments for blood clots is blood thinning medication, such as Coumadin. These medications will not get rid of clots, but will keep them from getting bigger and help to keep new clots from developing. Some doctors recommend compression stockings for patients with blood clots to reduce swelling.
In an article provided to Vascularweb.org by The Society of Vascular Surgery on October 14, 2009, it’s reported that another possible treatment for blood clots can be the insertion of a screen into the a large vein in the abdomen, the vena cava. The purpose of this screen is to prevent the clot from being able to travel to the lungs in the event the clot breaks free and travels. It is often used for people who for one reason or another cannot take blood thinning medication.
Deep vein thrombosis can be a very serious condition, and it’s important to see a doctor or go to the hospital if symptoms of blood clot present, such as pain, swelling or redness in legs. Preventing this condition by not remaining immobile for long periods and practicing good self care is also a good idea.