Deep Vein Thrombosis
by Debra Wood, RN
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. Veins are blood vessels with valves that help prevent backward blood flow. Blood is pushed through the veins in legs and arms when muscles contract.
Deposits of red blood cells and clotting elements in the blood can build up in a vein. This build up leads to a blood clot. Clots usually occur in the legs, but can occur in other locations. As the clot grows, it blocks blood flow in the vein.
Several factors contribute to clot formation, including:
Risk Factors TOP
Risk factors for DVT include:
Symptoms occur when:
Some patients may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism.
Symptoms of DVT may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Treatment aims to:
This may include:
You may be prescribed blood thinning medication to prevent additional clots from forming. These may be given by injection or by mouth. This treatment may be continued long-term.
In some cases, a filter may be placed in the inferior vena cava. The vena cava is a major vein. Blood from the lower body returns to the heart through this vein. The filter may trap a clot that breaks loose before it travels to the lungs.
General prevention measures include:
If you are admitted to the hospital, talk to your doctor about how to prevent blood clots, such as:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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