What is a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and how do I know if I have one?
A DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in your body, usually in the legs. Symptoms include unilateral leg swelling, pain, redness, tenderness, especially behind the knee or in the calf.
The causes of deep venous thrombosis can be hereditary or acquired and can occur as a result of alterations in blood flow, vascular endothelial injury, or hypercoagulable states.
Some risk factors that put patients at risk for acquiring a DVT include prolonged bed rest or hospitalizations, pregnancy, age >65, history of stroke, family history of VTE, oral contraceptives, smoking, recent surgery, malignancy, prior thromboembolisms, extended travel, trauma, obesity, or recent infection such as COVID.
Inherited risk factors of developing a DVT include hypercoagulability and thrombophilia, such as defects in protein S, protein C, and antithrombin, factor V Leiden mutation, and prothrombin gene mutation.
DVTs can be life threatening if it travels to the heart, lungs, or brain. If you think you have a DVT do not wait. This is an emergency. If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or an elevated heart rate call 911.
Bauer, K. (2021, July 20). Clinical presentation and diagnosis of the nonpregnant adult with suspected deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity. UpToDate. Retrieved March 2, 2022
This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.
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