To understand the treatments of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) you first have to understand what it is. A DVT is a blood clot (thrombus) that is located in the body’s deep venous system in your arms and legs. They can become very risky if it or a piece of it breaks off and moves through your bloodstream. A clot that forms in a deep vein can cause life-threatening situations and a large clot can become fatal very quickly.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of a DVT?
Your blood, even as it circulates, forms microscopic clots that your body constantly breaks down. When this balancing act of building and blasting clots is altered your bloodstream will be naturally inclined to clot. You can get more information about the causes and risk factors of DVTs by doing research online, several situations can lead to a thrombus.
- Prolonged sitting, such as extensive traveling
- Bed rest after surgery or during a hospital stay
- Trauma to an extremity
- Oral contraceptives
- Hereditary health issues
- Trauma such as fractures, compartment syndrome, bruising
- Cancer / increased red blood cells
- Certain cardiac issues that cause blood to flow at a slower rate
What Are The Symptoms of a DVT?
There are several signs and symptoms that you can watch for that could indicate a DVT is present. Knowing what to look for is very important to be able to identify a dangerous clot before it can become life-threatening. If you see any of the following talks to your doctor right away.
- Pain in arm or leg
- Warm or hot to the touch
- Redness or itching of the extremity
- Red or pink rash
- Ulceration on the skin
- Shortness of Breath
What Happens If You See Any of These Signs?
Only your doctor can medically confirm a diagnosis of a DVT. If you notice any signs or symptoms of a possible DVT you need to see your physician as soon as possible. DVTs are extremely serious and you should never put off getting medical help if you suspect that you may have developed one.
Your doctor will first run blood tests to check it, and then order an ultrasound or a D-Dimer test to confirm the diagnosis. An ultrasound can detect the presence of a clot, where it is located, how large it is, and possibly if it is new or chronic. This test can also be done over some time to tell if the clot is growing, resolving, or moving. Although ultrasound may not be able to tell if a clot exists in the pelvis where there is more tissue mass.
A D-Dimer blood test can also determine if a clot exists. D-Dimer is a chemical that your body naturally produces if it has a clot. The test is to see if any D-dimers exist in the bloodstream. If the test shows a positive then you may have a clot. Keep in mind that a simple bruise can cause the production of D-Dimers in your bloodstream.
How are DVTs Treated?
Your doctor will likely try the least evasive way to treat your clot unless he suspects any danger in the size or movement of the clot.
- Anticoagulation medication to thin your blood unless it is contraindicated. This is typically watched for three months, at which time your doctor will decide how to proceed.
- Thrombolytics break up clots quickly.
- Filters can be used to catch moving clots before they reach critical areas such as the heart, lungs, or brain.
- Compression stockings will help prevent swelling of the feet and legs.