Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot develops in the vein, which commonly happens in the leg veins.
Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from body back to the heart. A blood clot blocking the leg vein can lead to pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the leg, typically affecting the calf area.
The blood clot in leg vein may sometimes travel to the lung vessel causing pulmonary embolism (PE). Symptoms of PE may include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood and fainting. PE is a life-threatening condition as it can affect the body oxygenation.
1. Slower blood flow in the vein (venous stasis) due to immobility It may happen when someone:
2. Injury to the lining of the vein (endothelial injury) Causes of endothelial injury include:
3. Thrombophilia They are conditions that increase the risk of blood clot. Some examples include nephrotic syndrome, anti-phospholipid syndrome and protein C deficiency.
Other risk factors of DVT include cancer, pregnancy, obesity, use of oral contraceptive pills or hormonal replacement therapy.
D-dimer blood test: D-dimer may be elevated when someone has a DVT but an elevated D-dimer does not diagnose DVT as there are other conditions that can lead to elevated D-dimer such as infection and inflammation.
Ultrasonography of the leg veins is an easy and non-invasive way of diagnosing DVT.
Blood thinning agents called anticoagulants are given to prevent the clot from getting larger. This gives our body time to break up the blood clot. Rivaroxaban and Apixaban are the preferred anti-coagulants nowadays but other agents such as warfarin and enoxaparin (an injection) may be more suitable depending on your body condition.
The minimal duration of treatment is 3 months. Some people may require longer treatment to prevent the recurrence of DVT.