Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when your blood thickens into a clump. This clump becomes solid, forming a clot. When a clot forms inside one of your veins (thrombus), it won’t always dissolve on its own. This can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. A thrombus can develop in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually the legs. DVT may occur suddenly (acute) or develop gradually (chronic). DVT should be treated as a serious medical condition because if the thrombus breaks free, it can travel to your heart and lungs. When this occurs, the thrombus can get stuck and prevent blood flow, leading to nearby tissues being damaged and eventually causing a stroke, heart attack, loss of limbs, gangrene and other serious health problems.

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT is caused by a blood clot formed due to the thickness of your blood. However, other conditions, traits or habits may also play a role in raising your risk for this disease. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing DVT.

  • The risk is greater after 40 years of age
  • Pregnancy

Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • Smoking
  • Obesity or having a body mass index “BMI” of 30 or greater.

Other conditions that contribute to the development of DVT

  • Sitting for long periods of time, especially in a plane or a car.
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
  • Male hormones such as testosterone
  • Malignancy “cancerous” spread
  • Certain blood disorders
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation of your digestive tract.
  • Injury to a vein that occurs from breaking a bone, damaging a muscle, or during major surgery.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis can occur with or without any noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they include:

  • Feeling of warmth in the affected leg
  • Leg or arm swelling that comes on without warning
  • Pain or soreness when you stand or walk
  • Red or discolored skin on the leg
If a blood clot breaks free and moves through your bloodstream, it can get stuck in a blood vessel of your lung. Doctors call this a pulmonary embolism (PE). It can be fatal. Some people don’t know they have DVT until this happens. Signs of PE include:
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) of more than 100 beats per minute
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis

To diagnose DVT, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. You'll also have a physical exam so that your doctor can check for areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration on your skin. For some people, DVT may not be diagnosed until after they receive emergency treatment for PE. Otherwise, your doctor will recommend the following:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT treatment is aimed at preventing the clot from getting bigger and preventing it from breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Watch for signs of excessive bleeding.
  • Wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots in the legs.
  • Weight reduction
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.

Medications

  • Thrombolytic therapy is the administration of drugs called “lytics” or “clot busters” that will help break up or dissolve blood clots.

Medical and surgical procedures



Saint Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
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Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
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