Deep vein throbmosis (abbreviated as DVT) is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, this commonly affects the deep veins of the leg (in the calf or thigh).
What are the early signs and symptoms of a DVT?
A DVT may occasionally occur without symptoms, but usually the affected limb will be:
- and warm
The most serious complication of a DVT is that it can dislodge from the vein and travel up into the lungs where it can affect breathing – this is called a pulmonary embolism (PE).
What causes a DVT?
- Decreased flow rate of the blood
- Damage to the blood vessel wall (see image below)
- Increased tendency of the blood to clot
A number of factors bring about these conditions to increase the risk of a DVT:
- Immobilisation (such as lying in bed following surgery or sitting down for long plane or car trips)
- Following surgery
- Major trauma
- Increasing age
- Presence of cancerous tumour
- Heart failure
- Previous DVT
- Diabetes (as it damages the blood vessels)
- Obesity – as it puts more weight on the veins, causing them to weaken
- Childbirth – the physical strain of childbirth puts pressure on the deep veins, causing them to weaken
- Tobacco smoking – damages the blood vessels and doubles the risk of clot formation
What to do if you think you have a Deep Vein Thrombosis:
You should consult your doctor or emergency centre as soon as possible for treatment.
Preventitive measures against having a DVT:
- Keep moving, if you do need to sit for long periods (eg in the car/ plane) pump your ankles up and down, do static muscle squeezes of your thighs and buttocks
- Wear a correctly fitted compression stocking on the legs for long haul flights, especially if you have a number of risk factors for DVT
- If you have risk factors for DVT see your doctor for early advice
- Follow your doctors post-surgical advice if you have been prescribed exercises, medication or compression garments