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Deep Vein Thrombosis

Overview

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in a major vein, usually in the leg. This blood clot stops blood from flowing easily through the vein, which can lead to swelling, discoloration, and pain in the leg. It is often diagnosed with an ultrasound.1

Symptoms
  • Discomfort, heaviness, pain, aching, throbbing, itching, or warmth in the legs
  • Skin changes in the leg, such as discoloration, thickening, or ulceration
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet

 

Patients with DVT are at risk for developing post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS can involve chronic leg swelling, calf pain, calf heaviness/fatigue, skin discoloration, and/or venous ulcers.1

Causes and Risk Factors

The blood clots of deep vein thrombosis can be caused by anything that prevents your blood from circulating or clotting normally, such as injury to a vein, surgery, certain medications and limited movement.2 Many factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The more you have, the greater your risk of DVT. Risk factors include:

 

  • Inheriting a blood-clotting disorder
  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay, or paralysis
  • Injury or surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) or hormone replacement therapy
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • Being older than 60 yeas of age increases the risk of DVT, though it can occur at any age
  • Sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying2

 

1. North American Thrombosis Forum. What is Thrombosis? https://natfonline.org/patients/what-is-thrombosis/
2. Mayo Clinic. Deep vein thrombosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352557
3. Immobility, circulatory problems and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). https://www.who.int/ith/mode_of_travel/DVT/en/
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