Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein, usually in the lower leg or thigh. When all or part of the thickened clump of blood breaks off and moves through the bloodstream, it can travel to a lung artery where it can block the flow of blood. This condition, called an embolism, is very serious and may cause damage to the lungs or other organs.
Knowing some of the DVT risk factors and preventive measures you can take may help you avoid this condition.
Blood-clotting irregularities can be inherited, making some people more likely to develop blood clots. If you have a family history of blood-clotting problems, talk to your physician about whether special tests to identify these issues should be done.
The benefits of regular exercise are well known, but even short periods of movement can make a difference in keeping DVT at bay. If your job requires long hours of sitting, take regular breaks to get up and move around and try to keep your legs uncrossed. On long flights, take a walk down the aisle every hour; on long car trips, get off the road and stretch your legs every couple of hours.
Medications containing hormones can make the development of blood clots more likely. These include hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women, birth control pills, and testosterone for men. By themselves, these medications do not pose a significant risk, but if other factors are present, the overall risk of DVT is greater.
Blood flow slows down during prolonged inactivity, such as bed rest after you’ve had surgery. If you have major surgical procedures done to parts of the body with large veins, including your legs, pelvis, or abdomen, the risk of DVT may be increased if the veins are damaged during surgery. Make sure to move about as soon and as often as possible when you’re recovering from surgery.
Coastal Vein Vascular Institute’s board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of DVT. To learn more about our DVT treatments, including minimally invasive procedures, please contact us or schedule an appointment.