Deep Vein Thrombosis: All About a Ticking Time Bomb in Your Body

human-65819_1280There is no question that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be a dangerous and even fatal condition to be diagnosed with, which is why you need to understand as much as possible about the causes and symptoms of this ticking time bomb within your body.

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Understanding DVT

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms deep within your veins and is most commonly a condition which develops in your leg, although you can also find examples of DVT occurring in your arm.

What happens is the blood clot can impair or block blood flow back to your heart and cause damage to the one-way valves in your veins. Further complications can subsequently develop and the clot can sometimes travel down to your major organs, such as your lungs.

This can be a very dangerous and life-threatening scenario and about 10% of people die each year from DVT complications .

The two main complications are pulmonary embolism and post-thrombotic syndrome. There is no doubt that a pulmonary embolism is the most serious complication and it can block the blood vessels in your lungs, which can be fatal.

Post-thrombotic syndrome is a long-term symptom that can affect a number of people who had DVT at some point. Roughly a third of all people with a history of DVT are likely to develop post-thrombotic syndrome and symptoms include swelling, calf pain and the development of a rash.

Preventative measures

There are a number of aspects surrounding your health history and your lifestyle which could be influential factors in increasing your risk of getting DVT.

Watch your weight

Obesity increases the risk of DVT by as much as 50% so you need to be mindful of the dangers of deep vein thrombosis if you are overweight.

Taller people are also at a greater risk of DVT because they have further to pump the blood around their body against the normal gravitational pull, which has the effect of reducing the flow of blood to your legs and raising the risk of clotting.

Keep mobile

A DVT risk that has been well-publicized is the threat posed by long periods of immobility when you take a long flight.

It is important to try and keep as mobile as possible so try to walk around at regular intervals or if you can’t do that, at least try raising and lowering your heels and engaging your calf muscles, which will help to squeeze your veins and help the blood to flow upward.

You should try to avoid being seated for any longer than an hour at a time without moving around or doing some exercises. You could also consider wearing compression stockings or ask your doctor about blood-thinning medication, if you are at risk from DVT.

A history of DVT in the family?

If you have family members who have had incidents of blood clots or DVT, you should be particularly vigilant as a family history of blood clots virtually doubles your risk-profile.

Be sure to advise your doctor about the family history as it can influence their decision to prescribe hormones or could encourage them to prescribe a longer course of anti-clotting drugs after surgery in order to address these concerns.

After surgery

You are more vulnerable to DVT after having surgery or when you are confined to your bed for a long period of time.

Your surgeon should be very much aware of the threat of DVT and should provide guidance as well as monitoring your condition for the first ten days or so after an operation, which is a time where you can be highly susceptible to the prospect of developing a blood clot.

Simple tactics such as making sure the recovery bed you are in is higher at the foot end compared to the pillow end and some simple exercises such as leg lifts and ankle movements, will all contribute to minimizing your risk of developing DVT.

Being aware of the dangers of deep vein thrombosis will help you to exercise caution and recognize when you may be particularly vulnerable to the prospect of a blood clot developing into something critical.


Quentin Danziger has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from Colorado School of Mines. 10 year Owner/Operator of a successful offline business in Vail, Colorado.