Deep vein thrombosis is a medical condition involving the formation of blood clot or thrombus within a deep vein, usually in the legs.
According to Web MD, deep vein thrombosis is caused by damage to the inner lining of a vein, such as an injury or trauma, surgery, or a person’s immune system. In addition, a thicker consistency and slower blood flow places a person to a higher risk of deveeloping a clot, particularly to a damaged vein. High estrogen levels in the system, as well as certain genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis, and sickle-cell anemia, are also contributing factors for deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis is associated with pulmonary embolism, its potentially life-threatening complication that results from an embolus, or a clot that is detached from blood vessels and travels to the lungs. Witthin the lungs, the clot will disrupt blood flow, impairing oxygen delivery, not only in the lungs, but to other parts of the body. Both conditions consitute a single disease process called venous thromboembolism.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 people are affected by deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism each year in the United States. In addition, it is noted that the medical conditions stand as the causes of of death of approximately 60,000 to 100,000 Americans, with 10 to 30 percent dying within one month of diagnosis and 25 percent with sudden death as the first symptom.
There are cases in management of deep vein thrombosis could be insufficient as one-third or about 33 percent of people with deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism experience recurrence within a decade. Inherited thrombophilias, a genetic defect that increases one’s risk for thrmbosis, is also identified as one of many factors leading to deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism in approcimately 5 to 8 percent of the United States population.
The disease process entails that people who have increased risk for having deep vein thrombosis are older people, smokers, overweight and obese people, people who sit for long times (i.e. long airplane plane), those who are on extended or complete bed rest, peopel who had surgery, and people with cancer.
According to Mayo Clinic, swelling of the affected area is a common symptom of deep vein thrombosis. Both legs may become swollen in rare cases. The affected leg may be reddish, tender, and painful, particularly in the area of the clot. In addition, the pain usually begins in the calf area and gives feelings of cramping and soreness, even if during standing or walking. Additional symptoms include veins that can be seen and tired legs.
Deep vein thrombosis may occur with or without any symptoms.
Meanwhile, signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- coughing up blood
- chest pain or discomfort that becomes worse when coughing or breathing deeply
- unexplained sudden onset of shortness of breath
- rapid pulses
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy or fainting
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are deadly, but there are things that can be done to prevent them.
The prevention of blood clot formation secondary to blood stasis is one of the prme easures to consider to prevent deep vein thrombosis. This means exercising regularly to boost blood flow along with the body’s metabolism. Exercise signals the body the need for oxygen, so the body would signal the pacemakers of the heart to pump more blood for efficient oxygenation. In addition, to exercise, diet and the management of blood sugar levels in cases like diabetes can also prevent the condition by avoiding the blood consitency to become thick. For those who have been on bed rest due to surgery, coordination with the health care team with regard to activities of daily living is important.
Vitamin K is important in one’s diet, but it has to be double-checked if a person is taking warfarin, an anticoagulant or a blood thinner. Vitamin K helps clotting factors in blood clot formation in wound healing, so an increased intake of the vitamin can counter warfarin’s action. Because of this, it is important to coordinate with the health care team the diet to prevent the condition.
If one develops signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, he should not hesitate to seek immediate consult with a physician for assessment, evaluation, and medical advice.