Sitting in a single position for a long time at the office or elsewhere can result in having deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Deep vein thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot or thrombus in a single or more, deep veins in the body, mostly the thighs or lower legs, but can also come up in other areas of the body. It is a serious condition which occurs with leg pain, swelling, redness or warmness but may also occur without any symptoms. What is a blood clot? It is a gelatinous lump of blood in a solid state. Scientifically, DVT can be explained as the interplay of three processes which are changes to the blood vessel wall, an increased tendency to clot (hypercoagulability) and a decreased blood flow rate (venous stasis).
It can be life threatening when the clot caused by DVT travels and makes it way to the lungs; this is also called pulmonary embolism. This can lead to many more complications.
The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include the following:
- Severe leg pain is the most common symptom for DVT that usually begins with the calf but later may spread to your entire legs. Pain alone cannot be a determinant for DVT though it is an important one.
- Swelling in the feet, leg or ankle mostly on one side is also a sign of a development of DVT in your body.
- Some areas of the leg feel warmer than the other parts of the body, though this may be temporary in some cases and the person may not think much of it, but it is a factor that many doctors when asked, get a positive revert from the patients.
- Discolouration or redness-blueness on the area affected is some of the very few visible symptoms of DVT.
- Distention of surface veins can occur. Many people who have this disease, do not even know about it as they take these small symptoms lightly and do not refer to the doctors. In some cases, this disease is discovered after they are taken to the emergency room for pulmonary embolism.
It is highly recommended to visit a doctor if you face any of the above symptoms.
If you experience a sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath, coughing up blood, lightheaded or dizzy feeling, fainting or rapid pulse, then it may be a sign of pulmonary embolism, and you must take the help of a medical expert immediately.
Since the symptoms are limited and very common, it is crucial that we develop a profile for people who are more susceptible to DVT based on the increased risks that some may face.
DVT is common with people aged above 60 years, though it is known to occur at any age. A hereditary blood clotting disorder or a family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism or any injury that damages the veins or vitamin C deficiency, protein S deficiency (type I) also puts you at a considerable risk, as the clots will develop much easier than otherwise. Paralysis, or a prolonged bed rest or hospital stay where the legs stay still for a long period of time, lead to the risk of lower circulation and chance of a clot. Same is the case when you do not move your legs for a long time like when driving or in long-haul flights. This promotes low circulation and increased chances of a clot under the calf.
For women having birth control pills, oral contraceptives the chances of DVT increases as it promotes the blood’s ability to clot. Also, pregnancy increases the chances of DVT as it exerts more pressure on the veins in the pelvis and legs. This risk can continue up until six weeks after the delivery of your child.
Overweight people face a higher risk of getting DVT since they are putting more pressure on their veins in the legs and pelvis, smokers are also at a heightened risk as cigarette smoking affects the circulation and increases chances of clotting. Hence exercise, the right diet, and a healthy lifestyle are all critical to avoiding DVT.
People with a history of heart diseases or heart failure are also at a greater risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism since they have a limited heart and lung functioning. Cancer patients, especially the ones with cancer of the bone, brain, ovary, pancreas, and lymphomas also have an increased risk of DVT, as the cancer may enter the bloodstream and make alterations leading to a risk of clotting.
You need to visit a doctor immediately if you have the symptoms stated above and you also come under the risk profiles described above. Generally, the doctors prescribe an anticoagulant for the treatment as they prevent new clots and also restrict the existing clot.