How Serious Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 900,000 Americans could be affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) every year and for one-quarter of them, the first sign of the condition will be sudden death due to related pulmonary embolism. 

If you belong to the other 75%, seeking treatment for signs and symptoms of DVT is the smart move, given the potentially deadly consequences you may be facing. Dr. David Naar and our team at Premier Vein Clinic specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of DVT. Contact us if you suspect you could have this or any other venous condition needing treatment. 

The Anatomy of Veins

Veins are the blood vessels responsible for returning blood from all points in the body back to the heart and lungs to be recharged with oxygen. Unlike arteries, which have thin layers of muscle tissue, veins are passive vessels that depend on your body movement to assist the pumping blood back to the heart. 

This is one reason why inactivity is such a big health risk. The normal function of your body depends on movement, so spending long hours in passive sitting or standing positions can often contribute to DVT, but there are many other risk factors as well. 

Causes of DVT

Anything that causes clotting or prevents efficient circulation of blood through the deep veins of your arms or legs can contribute to DVT. Risk factors besides inactivity include: 

  • Genetic blood clotting disorders
  • Injury to blood vessels, which can clot during healing
  • Carrying extra body weight, increasing pressure in veins
  • Tobacco use, since it creates negative changes in blood vessels
  • Pregnancy 
  • Hormone medications such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • Bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Body changes related to aging
  • Heart failure, which can magnify the effects of small embolisms

Combining two or more of these risk factors increases the chances of DVT or of suffering more serious consequences of DVT. 

Signs You May Have DVT

You have a one in four chance of having DVT without noticing any symptoms. Symptoms usually present in one leg, though they can occur in both or in the arms. Leg pain and cramps, particularly in the calf, are common early signs. You may also notice swelling due to fluid retention, and areas of your leg may be both warm and red. The affected limb may feel warm in general. Sometimes, your leg pain increases when you bend your foot, lifting your feet upwards. Skin may appear discolored, with white or blue tints compared to normal skin. 

Seek immediate emergency care if you display symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, including: 

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Chest discomfort or pain that increases when you cough or breathe deeply
  • Shortness of breath that starts quickly without an apparent reason
  • Coughing that produces blood

Pulmonary embolisms are potentially fatal, so treat these symptoms as a medical emergency. 

Contact Premier Vein Clinic to arrange an appointment, by phone or online, if you have any concerns about your DVT risk. You can make changes and receive treatment to significantly improve your chances of sidestepping this dangerous condition. Schedule your appointment today. 

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