I’m sure that many of you have heard of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis, or Deep Venous Thrombosis) and have perhaps heard of what happens when you develop this condition. However, many people do not really understand what causes DVT and thus it can be difficult to minimize your chances of developing it. This article will go through the main causes of DVT.
Deep Vein Thrombosis - You can see the swelling and redness
DVT means that a clot develops in one of the deep veins and occurs mostly in the veins in legs or the pelvis. Most of the time the sufferer will be symptomatic with swelling, pain, warm, and generally unwell. However in some patients, there are few if any symptoms. DVT can be dangerous in the fact that the clot could be dislodged and it travels round to the heart and lungs, which is called a Pulmonary Embolism. This is the main reason why anyone with DVT should be regarded as an emergency and should be treated as such, however trivial the symptoms may be.
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis
Now that we have briefly gone through the symptoms and complications, it is important to go through the causes, as some of the causes are highly preventable.
Certain medical conditions have been known to increase the risk of developing DVT partly because of the illness itself and secondly because they can cause immobility for a certain amount of time. Some of these are:
- Compression of the veins
- Physical trauma
- Inflammatory conditions
- Heart conditions
- People who had DVT before as the previous time may have damaged the lining of the vein.
The most common cause of DVT is surgery that lasts longer than 1.5 hours, as 40% of people with DVT have recently had surgery. This is because when you are put under general anaesthetic, it commonly contains an agent that will paralyze your muscles, meaning that your legs in particular are still for a long period of time. This means that the blood flow is slow, meaning that this gives more opportunity for a clot to form. Certain surgical procedures include this risk further and they include operations on the legs and pelvis.
Patients who are hospitalized are at an increased risk as well because of the immobility issue. Patients in intensive care are particularly vulnerable because they are very ill to begin with and some may be under anaesthetic.
Undertaking long journeys on planes, trains and coaches are again major risk factors as the chance to move about on these are limited, and often you are squashed in with your legs tightly packed in the same position.
Patients who take hormone medications such as oestrogen pills may again be at an increased risk because they make the blood clot more easily. During pregnancy and in the postnatal period women have an increased risk. Around 1 in 1000 women develop DVT.
Other factors that may cause an increased risk of DVT include:
- Being of an older age, because mobility isn’t always great and there can be issues with blood clotting.
- Being Male as men are more likely than Women to suffer from DVT.
- Dehydration because it can make the blood stickier, making it more likely to clot.
Obviously some of the above are not preventable but smokers could give up smoking to reduce their risk, people who are obese could lose some weight to reduce their risk and people travelling by plane or on long journeys can use things like flight socks, and get up regularly to move their legs around. The causes of DVT are wide and diverse and it is important to prevent them rather than waiting for them to strike.