Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) in a vein deep inside the body. The clot may interfere with circulation and break off and travel through the bloodstream where it could lodge in the brain, lungs, heart or other area causing damage. DVT commonly occurs in the lower leg, thigh or pelvis. Occasionally, the veins of the arms are affected.

DVT Risk Factors

  • Age 40 and above
  • Immobility, such as bed rest or sitting for long periods of time
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Coagulation abnormalities
  • Having a central venous catheter
  • Limb trauma and/or orthopedic procedures
  • Childbirth within the last six months
  • Hormone therapy or use of oral contraceptives
  • History of miscarriage
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco usage
  • Previous DVT or family history of DVT
  • Previous or current cancer

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Symptoms of DVT

  • Leg pain or tenderness
  • Swelling (edema) of the leg or lower limb
  • Warm skin
  • Surface veins become more visible
  • Skin discoloration and/or redness
  • Leg fatigue

Preventing DVT

  • Exercise — Exercising your lower leg muscles can improve the circulation in your legs.
  • Getting up out of bed — This is especially important after a major illness or surgery. If a person is unable to get out of bed, he/she should do in-bed exercises to keep the circulation going through their legs.
  • Compression Stockings — For those who are at increased risk or have abnormal hyper-coagulability, compression stockings help prevent DVT.