Approximately two million Americans are affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) every year. This condition can be serious if blood clots that form due to DVT break loose and travel to the lungs. Our vascular experts have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating this condition.
Sometimes referred to as deep venous thrombosis, DVT is a blood clot that forms in deep veins in the body. DVTs most often develop in the lower extremities or thighs, but can occur in the liver, kidney, intestines, brain, or arm. These deep vein clots can completely or partially block blood flow. In some patients, a clot can dissolve over time, but can leave irreversible damage that causes post-thrombotic syndrome in approximately half of patients treated with blood thinners alone. This syndrome causes blood pooling in the leg, chronic pain, fatigue, swelling, and sometimes skin ulcers.
DVT can be acute or chronic. In its chronic phase, DVT can obstruct the flow of blood from the legs to the heart, resulting in post-thrombotic syndrome. With acute deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot can migrate to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
An associated condition is May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS), also known as iliac vein compression syndrome. It occurs when the right iliac artery compresses the left iliac vein in the left leg, causing an increased chance of DVT. MTS is especially prevalent in women between the ages of 20 and 40.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing DVT. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these risk factors include:
Prolonged bed rest: Calf muscles help blood circulate when they contract. Keeping your legs still for long periods, such as you would during a hospital stay, can increase the likelihood of the formation of blood clots.
An inherited disorder: In itself, an inherited disorder that makes blood clot more easily won’t necessarily become a problem, but it may if you have additional risk factors for developing DVT.
Being overweight: If you’re carrying extra weight, there may be increased pressure in the veins in your legs and pelvic area.
Surgery or vein injury: If your veins have been injured or if you’ve undergone surgery, your risk of blood clots can be higher.
Cancer: Certain cancer treatments and even some forms of cancer can cause an increase in the substances in your blood that cause it to clot.
Age: Deep vein thrombosis can develop at any age, but those over the age of 60 do have an increased risk.
Increased estrogen: This can be caused by the use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, as well as pregnancy, for up to six weeks after delivery.
Chronic illnesses: Cancer and its treatment, and decreased heart and lung function due to heart problems increase the risk of pulmonary embolism and DVT.
Bowel disease: Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other bowel diseases may increase the risk of DVT.
Deep vein clots can be life-threatening. Our fellowship-trained physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of DVT. This condition can be managed with medications, but should symptoms become severe or a clot become extensive, we can provide minimally invasive procedures to remove the clot and help our patients return to an active lifestyle. These procedures are performed at the hospital in an outpatient setting.
Coastal Vein Vascular Institute offers comprehensive vascular care. Our board-certified physicians provide safe, effective treatments for a full range of issues, including nonsurgical options. To learn more about DVT, please contact our clinic with any questions you may have, or request an appointment.