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What is a DVT?

Posted on December 11, 2023

What is a DVT? A DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in your body. Usually, DVTS form in your legs, and that can block your blood flow. Worse, a DVT can break free and flow to your lungs, forming a pulmonary embolism. As this condition is life-threatening, and DVTS affect up to 900,000 Americans each year, it's very important to learn how to prevent and treat this type of blood clot.

What Causes a DVT to Form? blood clot forming in body

Several factors increase your risk for DVT. First, remaining immobile for too long is a major risk factor. (That's why we warn patients to stay active on long plane rides or car trips.) Why is this the case? Well, when you stop moving, your blood flow slows down, too. As such, your blood can act on its natural instinct to clot. And that's when trouble can develop.

Other factors that up your DVT risk include being overweight or obese. You may also have an increased risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis if you've had recent surgery, especially on your knees, hips or the bones in your lower body.

Finally, women have a higher DVT risk, especially during pregnancy. But, even when not pregnant, taking a combination oral contraception (COC) may increase your blood clot risk.

What is a DVT? Signs and Symptoms

Here's a scary fact: some people could form a deep vein blood clot without any symptoms. Still, most people will notice blood clot warning signs such as leg swelling, redness or warmth on your skin, and walking challenges. In rare cases, a DVT may be preceded by a distended bladder or an inability to completely rid your bladder of urine, as was reported in this study in the journal Cureus. In fact, the researchers reported that these bladder problems seemed to trigger deep vein thrombosis in some cases. So, if you are at a higher DVT risk and develop bladder problems, make sure to seek immediate care and check in with your vein specialists right away.

Diagnosing and Treating Blood Clots

If you're at risk for blood clots, your healthcare provider may suggest taking anticoagulants. (These are medications that prevent clotting. If you've already had a DVT, you will likely be prescribed this class of medication while you recover, and possibly for a longer period of time.)

If there's a chance you've got a deep vein thrombosis, you may need an ultrasound or MRI to confirm your diagnosis. Once confirmed, you'll receive treatment with three main goals.

  1. Keep the clot from growing.
  2. Make sure the clot doesn't break free
  3. Reduce the chances of new clots forming

To meet those goals, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners, or anticoagulants, as we mentioned earlier. Depending on your situation, you may take these medications orally or by IV infusion. Even after your initial clot is resolved, you may need to take these meds for three months or longer.

In order to break up your existing clot, you may need an additional medication type called a thrombolytic. And, after any kind of blood clot treatment, you'll need to wear compression stockings to keep blood from pooling in your legs and to improve your overall blood flow.

Preventing DVT in Dallas and Houston, TX

Clearly, developing a deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical concern. That's why we focus on preventative care in our Houston and Dallas area vein clinics. So, how can you keep blood clots from forming?

Of course, there's no guaranteed prevention strategy. However, by maintaining an active lifestyle, following a vein-healthy diet and wearing compression stockings, you can certainly reduce your risk for this type of blood clot.

Now, as we said, this method isn't foolproof. And that means you may still develop a deep vein thrombosis. Which brings us back to our initial question: What is a DVT? It's a medical emergency! So schedule an immediate appointmentimmediate appointmentimmediate appointment with one of our vein specialists if you notice any symptoms of this kind of clot.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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