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Home | High Blood Pressure | Low Blood | Pulmonary Embolism | Deep Vein Thrombosis | Thalassemia |

DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein, usually in the legs.

Clots can form in superficial veins (called superficial thrombophlebitis or phlebitis) and in deep veins. While blood clots in superficial veins rarely cause serious problems, clots in deep veins (deep vein thrombosis) require immediate medical care.

These clots are dangerous because they can break loose and then travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is often life-threatening. DVT can also cause long-lasting problems. DVT may damage the vein and cause the leg to ache, swell, and change color. It can also cause leg sores.

Blood clots most often develop in the calf and thigh veins, and less often in the arm veins or pelvic veins. This topic focuses on blood clots in the deep veins of the legs, but diagnosis and treatment of DVT in other parts of the body are similar.

What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Blood clots in the superficial vein system most often occur due to trauma to the vein which causes a small blood clot to form. Inflammation of the vein and surrounding skin causes the symptoms of any other type of inflammation:

Often the affected vein can be palpated (felt) as a firm, thickened cord. There may be inflammation that follows the course of part of the vein.

Although there is inflammation, there is no infection.

Varicosities can predispose to superficial thrombophlebitis. When the valves of the larger veins in the superficial system fail (the greater and lesser saphenous veins), blood can back up and cause the veins to swell and become distorted or tortuous. The valves fail when veins lose their elasticity and stretch. This can be due to age, prolonged standing, obesity, pregnancy, and genetic factors.

Deep Venous Thrombosis

The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are related to obstruction of blood returning to the heart and causing a backup of blood in the leg. Classically, they symptoms include:

Not all of these symptoms have to occur; one, all, or none may be present with a deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms may mimic an infection or cellulitis of the leg.

Historically, healthcare providers would try to elicit a couple of clinical findings to make a diagnosis. Dorsiflexion of the foot (pulling the toes towards the nose, or Homans' sign) and Pratt's sign (squeezing the calf to produce pain), have not been found effective in making a diagnosis.

 

Causes

You are more likely to get DVT if you are over 40, are very tall and/or if you are obese. If you are immobile, for example after having an operation or travelling on a long-haul flight, you also have a greater risk of getting DVT.

There are a number of other risk factors that make you more likely to have DVT - these include if you have:

The risk of DVT is also increased in women who:

 

Risk factors

Many factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. One of the more talked about risks is sitting for a long time, such as when traveling in a car or on an airplane. Blood clots can form in the calves of your legs if your calf muscles aren't moving. Although sitting for long periods is a risk factor, your chance of developing deep vein thrombosis while flying or driving is relatively low.

The risk factors for developing deep vein thrombosis include:

 

 

 

Story about Leong Hong Tole, an acupuncturist and herbalist by THE STAR NEWSPAPER (Malaysia)

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