Deep Vein Thrombosis : Causes, Complications, and Management
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (venous thrombosis) is the severe condition of blood clot formation in a vein lying deep inside the body. The blood clot partly or wholly obstructs the blood flow through the veins. A blood clot is a clump of semisolid blood generally formed in response to a cut or an injury.
Facts of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Deep Vein Thrombosis can lead to postphlebitic syndrome or post-thrombotic syndrome(happen after long-term deep vein thrombosis)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis commonly forms in the lower legs and thigh but can also develop in other body parts like the brain, kidney, and intestine.
- The clots are hazardous and can break and travel to the lungs leading to obstruction of blood flow.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis causes lifelong problems such as vein damage
- It also causes swelling, pain and discoloration of the areas nearby a blood clot
- Deep vein thrombosis is treated with medicines to prevent further blood clot
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Symptoms are experienced by only half of the patient population
Generalized Symptoms are
- Pain usually begins in the thigh
- Severe pain in ankle and foot
- Swelling on one side of the ankle, foot and leg
- The affected area is warmer than other body areas
- Reddish, pale or bluish coloration of the affected area
- Veins close to the skin surface appear larger than normal
- Stomach pain when the affected vein is deep inside the abdomen
- Fever in some cases
Upper body Deep Vein Thrombosis symptoms include
- Arm or hand swelling
- Pain in the Shoulder & Neck
- Pain radiates from arm to forearm
- Hand weakness
- Darker skin color than other parts
- Severe headache when the affected vein is in the brain
Risk factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Excess weight puts pressure on the pelvic veins and legs increased the chance of deep vein thrombosis
- Older age more than 60 years are more prone to deep vein thrombosis
Decreased movement or inactivity
- It may happen during long-distance flight blood collects in the lower body parts, blood flow slows down and can lead to clot formation .
Vein damage due to injury
- Weakens blood flow which can result in blood clot .
Vein damage during a surgical operation
- Blood vessels can be harmed during surgery can also cause blood clot development .
Vein damage due to infection
- Infections such as tuberculosis and other viral and bacterial infection can lead to deep vein thrombosis.
- Pregnant has less movement than the normal woman Thus pregnant woman has a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis .
- Having blood clotting problems in the family increases the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis.
- People with lung, brain or stomach cancer who are under chemotherapy (medicines with strong chemicals to treat cancer) treatment has a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis .
- Medications such as antidepressants and birth control tablets increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Other health conditions that increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis are
- Heart failure (difficulty of heart muscles to pump adequate blood)
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar (diabetes)
Diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- It is a test to observe the veins of the body .
- A dye is inserted into the troubled vein, and an X-ray is taken to confirm the deep vein thrombosis.
- It allows tracking the obstructed blood flow
- It is only recommended if the ultrasound’s result is not convincing.
- It uses sound waves to take pictures of the veins and the arteries
- It examines the blood flow through the veins and arteries
- D-dimer blood test checks for D-dimer protein in the blood
- D- dimer is the protein fragment made when a clot dissolves in the blood
- High levels of D-dimer protein, along with other symptoms, indicate the clot in the body
Treating Deep vein thrombosis
Treatment of deep vein thrombosis targets preventing future clots. it involves following measures:
Medicines for Deep vein thrombosis
Anticoagulants (blood-thinning drugs)
- It is used to prevent serious blood clot
- It reduces the risk of repeated deep vein thrombosis
- It reduces the blood clotting ability
- It prevents blood clot
- Prevents new clot formation in the body
- It inhibits vitamin K-dependent clotting factors
- It decreases the blood clotting ability
- It prevents the symptoms of blood clot due to specific surgical procedures
- It helps block certain clotting factors in the blood
- It is used to treat severe deep-vein thrombosis
- It reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis
- It helps to prevent a blood clot in the leg veins in bed rest patients
When anticoagulants do not work, then thrombolytic drugs are recommended
- Thrombolytic pills dissolve the blood clot
- It is helpful for people with upper body deep vein thrombosis
- Filters are recommended for patients who cannot take anticoagulants
- Filters are placed inside large abdominal veins (vena cava). It prevents clots from entering the lungs(pulmonary embolism)
- However, the filters are placed for short durations until the risk of deep vein thrombosis decreases and anticoagulants can be reused.
- Compression stockings are socks that slightly squeeze the legs.
- It maintains the blood flow and prevents swellings and discomfort .
- It reduces the chance of developing clots .
- It is the surgery to remove a blood clot from the vein or artery .
- It is advised only in case of critical situations like huge blood clots or clots causing tissue damage .
- However, the particular risk associated with surgery includes infection, excessive bleeding and blood vessel damage
Following the prescribed medicines along with home remedies can reduce the risk of complications of deep vein thrombosis
- A well-balanced diet comprising fruits, fibers and vegetables is suitable for people at risk of deep vein thrombosis.
- Making a habit of taking shorter frequent walks several times a day .
Wearing compression stockings
- People at risk of deep vein thrombosis should wear compression stockings.
- Wearing while travelling for hours in the bus, car etc., could be helpful
Keeping the arm and leg in an elevated position
- Keeping the feet in touch with the ground the whole day can collect blood.
- Legs should be rested in stool to keep it elevated and at the same level as the hip
Complication of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Difficult breathing
- Excess sweating
- Blood while coughing
- Severe chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Skin sores
Severe complications of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- The blood clot damages the vein It decreases the blood flow to the affected area
- It causes skin sores, swelling and pain .
- It is the sudden obstruction of the lung artery .
- It occurs when the clot separates and travels to the lung .
- It blocks the blood flow and may cause death .
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are prescribed to treat deep vein thrombosis. It increases the risk of bleeding.
- Hence, it is essential to do blood tests regularly while taking anticoagulants
Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Complete cessation of smoking
- Movement of legs on bed rest and surgery
- Regulating one’s weight
- Controlling high blood pressure
- Stretching feet and legs while sitting on a car, bus, or aeroplane for long hours
- Avoiding wearing of the tight fitting clothes that restrict the normal blood flow
- Deep vein thrombosis is a severe disease that can be fatal at times .
- Diagnosis is difficult as only some people experience symptoms .
- It is very crucial to know the risk factors of deep vein thrombosis to prevent oneself from suffering from the disease .
- Moving frequently and maintaining a well-balanced diet are the main ways to prevent deep vein thrombosis .