Vascular conditions like DVT don’t get a lot of attention. Fortunately, this could be because DVT, deep vein thrombosis, is relatively rare in comparison to more familiar vein problems like varicose veins or spider veins. Deep vein thrombosis involves the formation of a blood clot in a vein that lies deeper beneath the skin. The condition usually occurs in a leg and may cause a specific set of symptoms. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people do not know right away that they have a blood clot in a deep vein. This is exactly why it’s important that we shed light on DVT, so more people can become aware of their risks and potential complications if the problem is not treated. At Sun Vein and Vascular, patients receive care from a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of deep vein thrombosis.
Where Does DVT Originate?
The concept of deep vein thrombosis can feel unnerving. How does a blood clot suddenly form in a deep vein in a leg? There may be nothing sudden about the process. Chances are, it begins with chronic venous insufficiency. This is the same underlying cause for varicose veins and spider veins. Our veins are an integral aspect of the circulatory system. They carry deoxygenated blood from peripheral tissues and organs back to the heart. From the legs, the veins must circulate blood against the force of gravity. The calf muscles help with this. So do one-way valves situated along the veins. Once blood passes a valve, it closes so blood continues forward. Damage to a vein wall can affect how well valves close, which can result in blood pooling in certain parts of a vein.
The Step from CVI to DVT
Often, varicose veins are superficial. We can see and feel them when we look at or touch the skin. DVT is somewhat like a varicose vein located in deep tissue rather than near the surface. Another reason that a blood clot may form in a deep vein is that the veins have become narrow or blocked, similar to what can happen to our arteries as we age. There is a risk of deep vein thrombosis after surgery due to a lack of physical activity (which is why surgeons strongly advise patients to begin walking right away). Therefore, any lack of activity, even due to a sedentary lifestyle, increases the risk of DVT as a result of poor circulation.
Is DVT Serious?
Yes. Unlike a varicose vein that is cosmetically concerning and physically uncomfortable, DVT involves a blood clot in a vein. The blood clot can dislodge, creating a risk of pulmonary embolism if the clot makes its way to the lungs. To reduce this risk, it is necessary to spot the signs that you may have deep vein thrombosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe common symptoms as the following:
- Swelling in a foot, ankle, or leg
- Skin discoloration (usually blue or red)
- The skin on the affected area of the leg feels warm to the touch
- Severe calf cramping in the affected leg
The CDC also states that symptoms may only appear in half of those who develop DVT. Furthermore, statistics indicate that about half of the people who develop deep vein thrombosis eventually experience pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is an urgent medical situation that requires emergency care. It may cause symptoms such as a sudden cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, or changes in respiration like rapid breathing.
The good news about deep vein thrombosis is that it can be treated, often with medication and exercise. In our Dallas, TX office, patients receive a thorough consultation, examination, and treatment plan to address DVT and other vascular and vein concerns. Contact us at (214) 556-8880 to schedule a visit.