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Deep Vein Thrombosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Nov 08, 2023

Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the term used to describe a blood clot (thrombus) that develops in one or more of the body's deep veins, usually in the legs. Deep vein thrombosis may present with leg pain or swelling. There might not always be any clear indicators.

Deep vein thrombosis may occur if you have specific medical conditions that affect blood clots (DVT). You run the risk of developing a blood clot in your legs if you remain motionless for a long time. When recovering from surgery, an illness, or an accident, for example, you might not move much; the same is true if you're bedridden.

Deep vein thrombosis can be quite serious since blood clots in the veins have the potential to burst. The clots may then enter the bloodstream and become lodged in the lungs, preventing blood flow (pulmonary embolism). When DVT and pulmonary embolism (VTE) occur together, the condition is referred to as venous thromboembolism.

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Causes Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Anything that prevents blood from clotting properly or from flowing might cause a blood clot.

The main causes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are vein injuries, infections, inflammations, and surgeries.

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Symptoms Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) symptoms might include:

  • Swollen legs 
  • Cramps, tightness, or pain in the legs that usually starts in the calf
  • Skin tone variation on the leg, depending on your skin tone, from purple to red
  • A sensation of heat on the injured leg

Deep vein thrombosis can occur without obvious symptoms.

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Risk Factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be caused by several different reasons. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of developing DVT. Risk factors for DVT include:

  • Age: The risk of DVT rises with age above 60. DVT, however, can occur at any age.
  • Lack of movement: When the legs remain still for a long time, the calf muscles do not tense or tighten. Muscle contraction increases blood flow. Prolonged sitting, such as that which occurs during driving or travel, increases the risk of DVT. This also holds for prolonged bed rest, which might result from a medical condition like paralysis or a lengthy hospital stay.
  • An injury or surgery: Procedures or harm to veins can raise the risk of blood clots.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the pressure in the veins of the legs and pelvis increases. Up to six weeks following delivery, blood clots related to pregnancy can still happen. Particularly at risk are those with inherited clotting disorders.
  • Hormone replacement therapy, birth control tablets, or oral contraceptives: Both can enhance blood coagulation.
  • Being overly corpulent: Being overweight causes the veins in the legs and pelvis to become more pressurized.
  • Smoking cigarettes: DVT is more likely when smoking because it changes blood clotting and flow.
  • Cancer: Raising blood clotting proteins has been linked to some cancer types. An additional risk factor linked to specific cancer treatments is blood clots.
  • Cardiac failure: Heart-failing patients are more likely to experience DVT and pulmonary embolism. Heart failure patients have impaired lung and cardiac function, which makes the symptoms of even a little pulmonary embolism more noticeable.
  • Colon inflammation caused by diarrhea: Crohn's illness and ulcerative colitis can raise the risk of DVT.
  • Family history of DVT: If you or a family member has ever experienced this condition, you may be at a higher risk of developing DVT.
  • Genetic characteristics: There are genetic variations in some people that facilitate blood clotting. Factor V Leiden serves as an example. One of the components of blood coagulation is altered by this inherited condition. If there are no other risk factors present, an inherited condition may not cause blood clots.
  • There are times when a blood clot in a vein occurs for no apparent reason: The term "unprovoked" (VTE) refers to this kind of venous thromboembolism.

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Diagnosis Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

To diagnose deep vein thrombosis (DVT), your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. The doctor will check the legs for discomfort, changes in skin tone, or oedema.

The tests you require will depend on whether your doctor thinks you have a low or high risk of DVT.


To detect or rule out DVT, the tests listed below are utilized:

  • D-dimer blood test: D dimer is one type of protein that blood clots produce. In almost all cases of severe DVT, D dimer levels are high. A common benefit of this test is that it helps rule out pulmonary embolisms (PE).
  • Dual-mode ultrasound: Using sound waves, this non-invasive examination takes pictures of the blood flow in the veins. During the test, a medical expert gently moves a small hand-held device called a transducer across the skin of the body part being studied. A few days may pass between many ultrasounds to check for new blood clots or to see if a current one is growing.
  • Venography: Using dye and X-rays, this test creates a picture of the veins in the legs and feet. The dye injection is administered via a large vein in the foot or ankle. It makes blood vessels on X-rays more visible. Because the test is so invasive, it is rarely administered. One test that's often done first is ultrasonography.
  • A magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). The purpose of this test is to detect DVT in the veins of the abdomen.

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Treatment Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

There are three main goals in DVT treatment.

  • Prevent the clot from getting larger.
  • Prevent the clot from breaking up and going into the lungs.
  • Reduce the chance of developing another DVT.

Treatment options for DVT consist of:

  • Blood thinners: These drugs, also referred to as anticoagulants, help prevent blood clots from forming. Blood thinners lessen the likelihood of developing new clots.

Blood thinners can be injected subcutaneously, taken orally, or given intravenously (IV). DVT is treated with a wide range of blood-thinning medicines. You will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each choice with your healthcare provider to choose which is best for you.

You might need to take blood thinners for up to three months at least. It is imperative to take them exactly as prescribed to prevent serious side effects. Those taking the blood thinner warfarin (Jantoven) must have regular blood tests to monitor the drug's levels in the body. Certain blood thinners should not be taken when pregnant.

  • The anticoagulant (thrombolytics): When alternative therapies aren't working or in cases of more severe PE or DVT, these prescription drugs are given.
  • Using a catheter, a tube that is placed directly into the clot—clot busters are delivered. Since they can cause severe bleeding, they are frequently saved for patients with particularly large blood clots.
  • Filters: If you can't take medication to thin your blood, you might need to have a filter put into your large abdominal vein, the vena cava. A filter in the vena cava prevents breakaway clots from entering the lungs.
  • Compression stockings are the stockings used for support. Your legs won't clot with the help of these unusual knee socks. They support oedema reduction in the legs. Ascending from your feet to the area just above your knees, place them on your legs. For a few years, you should try to treat DVT by wearing these stockings during the day if at all possible.

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Prevention Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis may be prevented by making lifestyle changes. Test out these strategies:

  • Raise the legs: If you have had surgery or have been bedridden, try to get up as soon as you can. Don't cross your legs while sitting as this could cut off the blood supply.
  • When traveling, stop often to stretch your legs: Take periodic breaks from flying to stand or walk. Get out of your automobile and go for a walk once every hour if you're driving. If you are unable to walk, try exercising your lower legs. Hover your heels up and down while maintaining your toes on the ground. After that, elevate your toes while keeping your heels on the ground.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking raises one's chance of DVT.
  • Maintain weight control: Being obese is one of the risk factors for DVT. Aim for moderate physical activity for at least half an hour each day as a general goal. To meet certain fitness goals, keep weight off, or reduce weight, you may need to exercise more.

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Complications Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Complications from DVT could include:

  • Pulmonary embolism (PE): PE is a potentially deadly condition that can result from DVT. It occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) that forms in the leg or another area of the body separates and becomes lodged in a blood vessel in the lung.
  • Immediately seek medical assistance if you have symptoms of PE. Sharp dyspnea, chest pain during inhalation or coughing, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and blood in the cough are a few of them.
  • Post-phlebitic syndrome: Because of the blood clot's damage to the veins, there is less blood flow in the affected areas. Among the symptoms include leg pain, leg sores, and changes in skin tone.
  • Side effects from the treatment: Frequently, blood thinners are used to treat DVT. One potentially dangerous side effect of blood thinners is hemorrhage. It is imperative to have regular blood work done when taking blood thinners.

Also Read: Cerebrovascular Disease (Meningocele, Arnold Chiari Malformation, Brain Herniation Syndrome)

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