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Are you at High Risk for DVT?

Vascular Health Comes First At Metro Vein Clinic

When it comes to vein health and function, Metro Vein Clinic is your go-to source for information, prevention, and treatment for vascular conditions like varicose veins. It’s essential for us to equip you with everything you need to know when deciding on vein treatment.  

Today, we are unpacking a condition called DVT, or Deep Vein Thrombosis. We’ve got a few risk factors and prevention tools for you to evaluate and practice, respectively, as part of your overall wellness plan.  

Are you wondering about the condition of your leg or arm veins that are more visible under the skin or even creating lumps, bumps, and tenderness?  Call us today for a free screening and begin the journey back to comfort and confidence!

Deconstructing DVT

thrombus in vein

DVT is what happens when blood pools and clots in a deep vein in the legs. Blood clots in the legs can form for several reasons but are a severe health concern. A clot is made of platelets, the clotting factor in our blood that makes a scab when we get a cut or abrasion on the skin.  

When a clot forms in a large, deep vessel in the legs, a section of the clot may break free and end up traveling to the lungs where it can lodge and cause a  pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in a blood vessel in the lungs and can be life-threatening.  The signs of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing
  • Sudden onset of shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Sudden rapid pulse

If you have any of these symptoms, get to your doctor or the emergency room ASAP!

How to Tell if You Have a DVT

Homan's sign

A DVT may occur with few or no symptoms, but often some signs let you know something is going on. If you notice any of the following, schedule a speedy appointment with your doctor and get checked out:

  • Leg swelling
  • Leg pain or discomfort
  • Calf pain, especially when you flex or point your foot
  • Heat or redness in the leg

Of course, many of these symptoms can occur as a result of other conditions, but even one symptom as mentioned above can be a red flag for DVT, especially if you have many risk factors.  We’ll cover DVT risk factors just ahead.

The Surprising Number of Risk Factors for DVT

There is a long list of lifestyle, family history, and hormonal risk factors associated with DVT.  Here’s what you need to know. You are at higher risk for DVT if you have any of the following:

  • A family history of DVT
  • Recent surgery or injury
  • A smoking habit
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Bedrest for extended periods
  • A blood clot disorder
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer
  • Heart Failure
  • Advanced age (60+ years)
  • Prolonged hormonal birth control use

Some of these risk factors affect your blood’s ability to clot and others, like obesity and pregnancy, can place higher pressure on the pelvis and veins in the legs. If you have more than one risk factor, your chances of developing DVT at some point in your life increases. 

Be sure to work with your doctor to manage your risk factors to decrease your risk of developing DVT, and remember that sometimes DVT happens without any symptoms. Be watchful and proactive with your health.

Diagnosis and Treatment for DVT

Vein ultrasound for DVT

Your doctor will likely run one or more tests to diagnose a DVT accurately.  

  • Ultrasound: a wand used outside the skin to map the vessels in the leg on a computer screen and discover the location of the suspected clot
  • CT and MRI Scans: a large imaging machine picks up the location of the clot in the legs
  • Blood test: People with DVT have an elevated “D-dimer” substance in the blood
  • Venography:  A dye gets injected into the leg at the ankle, which makes the veins and any clots show up on an x-ray.

Treatment options for DVT include:

  • Blood thinners: May be taken for up to several months to help the clot dissolve
  • Clot busters: usually administered through IV, these drugs break up clots more aggressively and are reserved for patients who don’t respond well to blood thinners
  • Filter: If blood thinning and clot-busting drugs do not work to eliminate the DVT, a filter can be inserted into the vena cava (the largest vein in the body) just below the abdomen to shield the lungs from any clot breakage.
  • Compression stockings: These garments reduce swelling and improve blood flow in the legs when worn consistently according to your doctor’s recommendation.

Perhaps the best offense for the treatment of DVT is a good defense. Read on for prevention tips!

What can I do to reduce my risk for DVT?

Changes in lifestyle are the best way to reduce your risk for DVT. That means getting regular activity and not standing or sitting for prolonged periods.

If you are using hormonal birth control, explore other non-hormonal birth control options available to you. 

Check with the members of your family to find out if there is a history of DVT in your relatives. During pregnancy, engage in a regular, gentle activity, and follow your doctor’s recommendation for slow and steady weight gain within his or her guidelines throughout your gestation. 

Finally, wear compression stockings as directed to improve blood flow in the legs, especially if you have varicose veins already. If you are looking for a fabulous array of compression gear, we’ve got you covered at Metro Vein Clinic.

Our products feature a variety of strengths, colors, fabrics, and styles, including compression activewear so you can continue or begin your active lifestyle in comfort and ease.

At Metro Vein Clinic, we are proud to offer the best, most reliable treatment for painful or unsightly leg veins, as well as promoting good vascular health overall. We look forward to being your first choice in vein care. 

Visit our website today for a detailed description of our services and get on the road to optimal vascular health and function.