Deep vein thrombosis is the presence of a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body. It will usually be created in a large vein in the lower extremities, ie the vein ascending from the calf muscle to the hip. The blood clot forms in the vein and interferes with blood flow through it. Deep vein thrombosis may result in pain and swelling in the leg and may cause complications such as pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).
A pulmonary embolism will occur when part of a blood clot disconnects from it, drifts into the bloodstream and blocks the blood vessels in the lungs. A combination of deep vein thrombosis with pulmonary embolism is called venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Who is at risk?
Deep vein thrombosis may occur at any age, but its incidence increases with age. In addition to age, risk factors for deep vein thrombosis include:
Previous events of vein thrombosis.
Family history of deep vein thrombosis.
Medical conditions such as cancer or heart failure.
Inactivity (for example, after surgery, long flights).
Being overweight or obese.
Using birthcontrol pills or other hormonal treatments.
Deep vein thrombosis is manifested wiith pain, swelling and a feeling of a stiff vein in the leg. In some cases of deep vein thrombosis, there are no preliminary symptoms and therefore it is important to be aware of the signs and risk factors. Contact your healthcare provider immediately when you suspect that this condition is developing.
How to avoid deep vein thrombosis
Smoking cessation, weight reduction (if needed), regular physical activity (aerobic exercise such as walking that will improve blood flow in the leg), and a low-cholesterol diet will help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
There is no evidence that taking aspirin reduces the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
The incidence of embolic vein thrombosis (VTE)
In the European Union, more than half a million deaths occur each year due to embolic vein thrombosis. This number is higher than the number of deaths due to breast cancer, prostate cancer, AIDS and road accidents combined. It is estimated that about 10% of hospital deaths are caused by the formation of blood clots.
Every year about 20,000 cases of blood clots occur in Israel.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis
In some cases deep vein thrombosis will not cause any symptoms, but symptoms may include:
Pain, swelling and tenderness in one limb (usually on the market).
Feeling heavier in the affected area.
Warm skin to the area of the blood clot.
Skin redness, especially in the back of the leg, below the knee.
Symptoms usually appear on one leg. The pain can be caused by bending the foot towards the knee.
As mentioned above, without proper treatment, deep vein thrombosis may develop into a pulmonary embolism (in this condition an original blood clot is migrated to the blood vessels in the lungs) and cause more severe symptoms that include:
Shortness of breath (sudden or gradual).
Chest pain that worsens in inhalation.
A sudden collapse.
Both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are serious conditions that require immediate intervention and treatment.
Deep vein thrombosis may develop following surgery or other medical intervention in the lower body. Patients after these treatments should pay attention to warning signs that may indicate deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, as follows:
Pain or swelling of the foot.
The skin of the foot is warm to the touch or has changed its color.
The veins located near the surface of the leg appear larger than normal.
Shortness of breath.
Pain in the chest or upper back.
A bloody cough.
The onset of these symptoms requires immediate medical attention.
Our Tel aviv medical clinic doctor can help you to diagnose a deep vein thrombosis and treat it without the need of hospitalization.