A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in certain veins of the legs, pelvis, or arms. The clot is usually in the legs. DVT may damage the vein and cause the area to ache, swell, and change colour. DVT also can lead to sores.
DVT in these veins needs to be treated because the clots can get bigger, break loose, and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. A blood clot in a lung can cause death.
Blood clots can form in the veins when you are not active for a long period of time. For example, they can form if you need to stay in bed because of a health problem or must sit for a long time on an airplane or in a car. Surgery or an injury can damage your blood vessels and cause a clot to form. Cancer also can cause DVT. And some people have blood that clots too easily, which is a problem that may run in families.
A risk factor is something that makes you more likely to develop a disease.
Here are some major risk factors for DVT:
Here are some minor risk factors for DVT:
Symptoms of DVT may include:
If your doctor thinks you may have DVT, you will probably have an ultrasound test. You may have other tests as well.
Treatment for DVT usually involves taking blood thinners. These medicines are given through a vein (intravenously, or IV) or as a pill. Talk with your doctor about which medicine is right for you.
Your doctor also may suggest that you prop up or elevate your leg when possible, take walks, and wear compression stockings. These measures may help reduce the pain and swelling that can happen with DVT.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: November 21, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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