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Deep Vein Thrombosis - An Overview

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot or thrombus forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. It is a serious condition in which blood clots in your veins can also become loose and travel through your bloodstream and end up in your lungs causing a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

The most common signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are:

  • Pain and cramping in your calf and eventually spreading to the entire leg
  • Swelling in the affected leg

These symptoms sometimes might get worse and result in a pulmonary embolism. Signs of such an embolism include:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid pulse

If you feel any/some/all of the above symptoms, prompt medical attention is advised.

Risk factors of Deep Vein Thrombosis

You may be at a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis if you:

  • Have recently suffered a heart failure
  • Have a form of cancer
  • Are a smoker
  • Have an inflammatory bowel disease
  • Sit for long periods of time or are inactive for long periods of time as a result of bed rest or paralysis
  • Are over the age of 60
  • Have a family history of deep vein thrombosis
  • Have inherited a blood clotting disorder
  • Have had a recent surgery or injury to your veins
  • Consume birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • Are overweight

Diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis

In order to confirm deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will first ask you for your symptoms, check for swelling and lumps or signs of discolouration and then run tests which may include:

  • Ultrasound Doppler study,
  • Blood test such as D dimer test
  • CT scan
  • MRI Scan
  • Venography

Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Treatment for deep vein thrombosis aims at preventing the clot from getting bigger and ensuring the clot does not result in a pulmonary embolism. Once this is done, the goal is to reduce your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis again. Most common forms of treatment include:

  • Blood thinners or the usage of anticoagulants
  • Clot busters wherein thrombolytics and tissue plasminogen activators are given through an IV line
  • Compression stockings - to help prevent swelling
  • Filters - to prevent blood clots that break loose from lodging in the lungs
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