Every March, we honor DVT and Blood Clot Awareness Month by providing extra education and answers to questions about deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots.
At Miller Vein, we do more than just diagnose and treat spider and varicose veins. Our physicians are board-certified in venous and lymphatic medicine and are therefore able to diagnose and manage various vein conditions, including DVT blood clots.
What is DVT?
DVT (or deep vein thrombosis) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body. A clot can form anywhere in the body, but the most common area in which they develop is the leg. Pain or swelling, a feeling of warmth, and red or discolored skin on the affected leg(s) can all be symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. However, it is true that in some instances very small DVT blood clots won’t present any symptoms.
Since it is a serious condition, it's best to be examined immediately if you suspect you may have a clot.
How serious is it?
It can be very serious – even life-threatening. A pulmonary embolism (PE) is the most serious complication that can arise from a DVT blood clot. PE occurs when a piece of the blood clot breaks free and travels through the bloodstream to your lungs.
The truth is, DVT is often underdiagnosed and serious…but it's also preventable in many cases. One defense against DVT is to stay active and limit long periods of sitting or staying still. And, if you suspect a DVT blood clot, it’s best to be evaluated by a venous specialist immediately. Early and accurate diagnosis can be a lifesaver…literally!
How is it diagnosed?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 people develop DVT or PE (or both) each year in the United States. It’s been suggested that up to 100,000 of those people die from DVT/PE complications. Luckily, when accurately diagnosed, it’s a very treatable condition.
Diagnosis for DVT blood clots will most often include bloodwork or imaging tests. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound of the leg or area in which the blood clot is suspected, allow your physician to detect the presence of a blockage or blood clot by evaluating blood flow and overall venous health.
How is it treated?
Treatment for DVT may depend on a variety of factors, including the patient’s overall health, medical history, and the size or location of the blood clot.
Treatment for DVT may include compression stockings, blood thinners or other anticoagulant medication or a combination approach. Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters can also be placed within a large vein which will help reduce the chances of blood clots causing a pulmonary embolism and traveling to the lungs.
Can DVT blood clots be prevented?
Blood clots can often be prevented. The best ways to prevent DVT blood clots:
- Know your risk and family history and share this information with your doctor.
- Understand the signs and symptoms of DVT and see a doctor if you suspect a clot.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Keep moving! Get up and keep your blood moving and muscles engaged periodically throughout the day. During travel or long periods of sitting, it’s important to stand up, walk around, and stretch your legs at least every 2-3 hours.
- When traveling long distance by plane, train or automobile, graded compression stockings can decrease the chance of DVT blood clot by 10 times.