You may have heard warnings that it’s important to walk around and stretch your legs when you’re on a plane or work in an environment where you are seated for long periods of time. One of the main reasons this is recommended is to help prevent a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot (thrombus) develops in a deep vein inside your body. A blood clot is a sticky cluster of blood that forms a potentially dangerous (and sometimes fatal) blockage. Deep vein blood clots mainly form in your pelvis, thigh or lower leg, but blood clots can form in other places of your body as well. DVT can cause leg pain or swelling, but DVT can be present and show no symptoms.
How Does Deep Vein Thrombosis Develop?
If your blood moves too slowly through your veins, this can cause a blood clot to form. Events that can cause your blood to move too slowly include:
- Limited movement caused by not moving for long periods of time, such as after surgery or an accident
- Bed rest when you’re confined to bed when you’re ill or recovering from surgery
- Sitting for long periods of time, which causes your lower leg muscles to stay lax and harder for the blood to circulate
- Pregnancy, which can put pressure on the veins in your legs and pelvis due to the weight and placement of the baby
- Obesity, because when your body mass index (BMI) is over 30
- Serious health issues/disorders, such as irritable bowel disease, cancer, and heart disease, can all increase the risk of DVT.
- Certain blood disorders that cause the blood to be thicker than normal
- Vein injury from a bone break, surgery, or other type of trauma
- Hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills that contain estrogen
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
You may not notice any DVT symptoms. For some people, certain symptoms can appear. Common DVT signs and symptoms include:
- Inflammation or swelling in your affected leg
- Pain in your leg that feels like pulling or cramping that starts in the calf and works its way up
- A feeling of warmth in the affected area of skin
- Redness or discoloration of the affected skin
Treatment Options for Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT treatment helps prevent blood clots from growing or traveling to the lungs, and aids in preventing new blood clots from forming as well. To do so, DVT treatment options can include:
- Blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- Clot busting medications (thrombolytic agents)
- Filters inserted into the vena cava (a large vein) to prevent clots from traveling to your lungs
- Compression stockings to restrict or stop swelling associated with DVT
Our heart and vein doctors at Heart Vein NYC have more than two decades of experience with providing personalized vascular care for people suffering from deep vein thrombosis or other vascular conditions. Contact our caring, compassionate heart doctors if you believe you have a vascular problem and want to improve your vascular health. Call 212.226.8000 or fill out this form to schedule an appointment today.