DVT can occur for many reasons. Identifying the warning signs of DVT early on could help save your life. Read this article to learn the most common symptoms.
The CDC estimates that DVT is responsible for between 60,000 and 100,000 deaths per year. Yet, most people don’t know if they are at risk for it or how it even occurs.
So, we put this guide together to give you all the facts you need to know from the warning signs of DVT down to the traits that put some people at a higher risk of getting it. Continue reading along for some potentially life-saving information.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
If a person has a blood clot that formed in the deeper veins of their body, they are highly likely to receive a diagnosis for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
While this type of clot is difficult to find or detect, they commonly start in areas of the lower body like the legs, pelvis, and thighs. However, that doesn’t make them exempt from living in other areas.
When a person has this type of clot, they may experience quite a bit of pain and swelling in the area of the body that’s affected. In some situations, the clot and move through the body and even cut of the flow of blood to the lungs, during which the condition becomes fatal.
Risk Factors of Getting DVT
While anyone can get DVT, some people are at a greater risk of contracting it than others. Here are some traits that are most commonly shared in patients who have gotten this illness.
You Have Other Health Problems
There are certain health problems a person can have that puts them at a greater risk of contracting new health issues. When it comes to DVT, those health problems include inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
You’ve Had a Vein Injury
If you have an injury like a badly fractured bone or damaged muscle, the inner lining of neighboring veins can end up with damage as well. If this happens, the chances of a blood clot become even more likely.
Additionally, the trauma from a major surgery in the stomach, leg, hip, or pelvis can also increase your risks.
Your Estrogen Levels Are High
When your body’s estrogen levels are high, the chances of a blood clot are increased.
People who are most likely to experience these changes are pregnant women and those who are on certain medications such as birth control and hormone replacement therapy.
You’re of a Certain Age
People who are in their 40’s or older are more likely to get DVT than the younger population.
You Have a Family History
Your family history can tell you a lot about your health, including your risk of being diagnosed with DVT. Usually, when a parent or sibling has it, you are at risk.
The risk increases even more if both parents have been affected.
You Aren’t Very Mobile
If you sit often or are on bed rest, your risks for DVT are greater. This is because the deep veins in your legs need help from your muscles to keep your blood flowing properly.
If your muscles aren’t getting much movement, the blood can begin to pool in your lower legs. This pooling makes it even easier for a clot to form.
Warning Signs of DVT
DVT is often difficult to pinpoint for two reasons. The first is that most patients don’t experience symptoms. The second is that the symptoms can mimic other illnesses and cause misdiagnosis.
With that said, it’s important to be especially alert if you are a member of one or more of the high-risk categories mentioned about. If any of the following warning signs and symptoms appear suddenly, seek medical help right away:
- Swollen, red, hard, or tender veins
- Swelling in one or both legs
- A leg that feels warm to the touch
- Red skin or other discoloration on the leg
- Pain or tenderness in the leg(s) this might even occur when you stand or walk
If you are experiencing the following symptoms in combination with one or more from the previous list, you need to call 911 right away:
- Abnormally fast heartbeat
- Shoulder, arm, jaw, or back pain
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Sudden coughing with or without blood
- Pain while breathing
- Tightness or sharp pain in the chest
When DVT or any other blood clot breaks free, it can make its way to the lungs which is called a pulmonary embolism. As with DVT, it isn’t uncommon for a pulmonary embolism to occur without symptoms.
How Doctors Diagnose DVT
If you come to your doctor with concerns about DVT, they will ask questions about your symptoms, health, and medical history. There will also be a physical exam.
Once it is been determined whether you are high or low risk, appropriate testing will be completed. These are examples of some of the tests:
A venous ultrasound is a test that doesn’t cause any pain, nor does it involve radiation like an x-ray does. Instead, a technician will apply a cold gel to your skin and then rub a handheld wand in the area they think the clot might be.
An image will appear on the screen of the ultrasound machine, providing a clear look at your blood vessels and whether or not there are clots.
D-dimer is a protein that is present in the blood when a clot is breaking down. This test is used during the diagnostic process because d-dimer levels are high when a person has a blood clot.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
With an MRI, you will have to lie still on a table while radio waves provide your doctor with images of the inside of your body. This test is the best for DVT that has occured in the deeper areas of the body like the thigh and pelvis.
Keep in mind that it isn’t abnormal for patients to receive a shot beforehand in order to make the blood vessels easier to see.
Although the warning signs of DVT are easy to brush off as a minor issue, you should consult a doctor right away if you are experiencing them. Doing so can be the difference between life and death.
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