Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT can be caused by:
- Injury to a vein
- Slow blood flow and blood pooling in a vein
- Blood clotting problems
The risk of DVT increases with age. Other things that raise the risk are:
- Major surgery
- Trauma or fracture
- Personal or family history of DVT
- Not being able to move, such as with bed rest or airplane travel
- Changes in hormones due to pregnancy, birth control pills, and estrogen therapy
Medical conditions, such as:
- Heart failure and heart attack
- Certain kidney diseases
- Inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Behcet disease
- Blood disorders
- Having a catheter in a central vein
DVT does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms happen, they may be:
- Pain in the affected area
- Swelling of a leg or arm
- Tenderness along the vein, especially near the thigh
- Redness, paleness, or blueness of the affected leg or arm
Some may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called a pulmonary embolism.
The goals of treatment are to:
- Stop the clot from growing
- Dissolve the clot, if possible
- Prevent other problems, such as a pulmonary embolism and more clots
Treatment options are:
- Blood thinning medicine by IV or shots—to prevent DVT. It may be used for a long time.
- Medicine delivered to the site using a catheter and x-rays—to dissolve clots. It is given for clots that are large, serious, or in an arm.
- Compression stockings—worn on the legs to improve blood flow.
For large and serious clots, surgery may be done, such as:
- Thrombectomy—the clot is taken out.
- Inserting an inferior vena cava filter—a small device is placed in a vein. It prevents a blood clot from going to the lungs.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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