Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment for DVT

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

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It is a blood clot that usually forms deep inside the leg. DVT is a serious medical condition that require immediate attention. If not treated it could result in death as well. Before beginning the treatment for DVT, it is important to properly diagnose it and find the causes of DVT. In this article, we are going to look into detail what is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), the causes of DVT, its symptoms, how to diagnose deep vein thrombosis and treatment available for DVT.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that usually forms deep inside the leg.  An estimated half million Americans every year have this condition with about 100,000 dying from it. The dangerous part of this condition is when a blood clot breaks off inside the vein and travels through the bloodstream and can get stuck in the lungs, blocking blood flow that causes organ damage and even death.

Symptoms of DVT

The symptoms of DVT are swollen legs below the knee, redness, tenderness and pain in the area of the clot. People who have DVT may or may not have symptoms or warning signs. 

Pulmonary Embolism

This happens when the blood clot has moved inside the lungs and blocks blood supply.  It causes breathing, low blood pressure, fainting, fast heart rate and coughing up blood.  If you experience any of these symptoms, get prompt medical attention.

What Causes DVT?

When the inner lining of the vein is damaged due to surgery, injury or the immune system—DVT can result.  If your blood is thick and flows slowly, you’ll more likely have a clot and the vein has suffered damage.  People with certain genetic disorders or have more estrogen are more at risk for blood clots.

Who Can Get DVT?

People who at high risk for DVT are those with cancer, have had surgery, on extended bed rest, are aging, those who smoke, are overweight or obese and sit for long periods of time like a flight or long car trip.


Women are also more likely to develop DVT during pregnancy 4-6 weeks after having given birth.  It they have high levels of estrogen—the chances of getting a blood clot are easier because the pressure in the uterus can slow down blood flow to the veins, not to mention if you have certain blood disorder as well.

Hormone Therapy

Birth control pills and treatments for postmenopausal symptoms can also raise the estrogen in a woman’s blood. There is also an increased risk of DVT if there is no blood disorder.

[Also Read: Birth Control Methods to Avoid Pregnancy]

If Your Trapped in Your Seat

If you’re traveling on an long-extended international flight and have been sitting for long periods of time—4 hours or more—can double the risk of developing DVT.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on an airplane, train, bus or car either.  The cramped seating and not moving around frequently slows or blocks blood flow in the veins.

When to Get a Diagnosis?

Your doctor can check for signs of DVT by asking about your medical history, any medications you’re taking, medical problems with relatives—things that can put you at risk. A doctor will perform an ultrasound that uses sound waves to see the blood flow and reveal any clots. Other tests you may need are a blood test called a d-dimer.

DVT Treatment

Drugs called anti-coagulants, or blood thinners, are the most common way to treat DVT, although it doesn’t really thin the blood. What they do is make them less sticky and form new clots. While it won’t break up clots already formed, they do dissolve over time. You can either take a pill or get an injection by needle.

Side Effects of Blood Thinners

Side effects you can get are bruises or bleeding.  Ask your doctor, because on certain blood thinners, you may need to watch what you eat. The lab will usually check your blood to see if you have the right amount of drug in your body.  Newer medications can make it harder to stop the bleeding if you have an accident—so let you doctor know if you bleed a lot with minor injuries.

Internal Bleeding

You can bleed inside your body, even if you can’t see it. Signs of bleeding in your stomach are pain, vomiting is red or looks like coffee grounds, or you have red or black stools. Symptoms for bleeding in the brain are severe headaches, vision changes, unnatural movements and confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor or get to a ER immediately.

Vena Cava Filter

Your doctor can suggest filter in the biggest vein called the Vena Cava if, for some reason, you can’t take blood thinners, or they don’t work. This will catch the breakaway clots and prevents them from entering the lungs and heart. While it won’t stop clots from forming or cure DVT—but will prevent the dangerous condition of a pulmonary embolism.

Clot Busters

Medications used to dissolved blood clots are called thrombolytics. While it causes sudden, severe bleeding, your doctor will only use it in an emergency to dissolve life-threatening blood clots in the lung. You can also get a thrombolytics in your I.V. in the hospital.

Compression Stockings

You can get special stockings that will ease pressure in your legs and keep your blood moving. They prevent blood clots from forming and reduce swelling, easing discomfort in the leg where the blood clot has formed. Look for compression stockings over-the-counter, or get a prescription form your doctor if you need one with more pressure. You can also wear them at home as well.

Keep Your Feet Up

Sit with your feet elevated and raise as much as possible to let the blood flow in your veins upward and toward your heart.  This will lessen the swelling and discomfort in the leg with DVT.

Long-Term Effects

Even if the blood clot is gone, there is often an unpleasant reminder  like long-term swelling and changes in your skin where the clot formed as well as pain. Referred to as post-thrombotic syndrome, symptoms can reappear as soon as one year after a clot has dissolved.


Using your muscles can better promote blood flow, especially if you use your lower leg muscles. If you sit at a desk all day—take  plenty of breaks to stretch the legs. Stand up often and step away for a few minutes, and regular exercise keeps you healthy and can lower your risk of DVT.

Travel Tips

If you are traveling for more than 4 hours, try to avoid tight clothing and get plenty of water. If you can, walk around frequently every couple of hours. If you have to remain seated, try to stretch or move your legs. An exercise to try is clenching, releasing your calves and thighs, lift your lower heels with your toes on the floor. Once you get to your destination, do a lot of sightseeing by foot.

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