Am I at Risk for DVT?

Am I at Risk for DVT?

Anyone can develop a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which affects about 900,000 Americans annually, but certain factors increase your risk of this potentially life-threatening condition.

Renowned vascular surgeon Dr. Farouk Marzouk at Frontier Medical Care in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, New York, answers questions about the symptoms of DVT, why they form, and the treatments that help.

What is a DVT?

A thrombosis is a clot that blocks blood flow through your blood vessels.

An arterial thrombosis forms in the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your brain, abdomen, and other areas of the body. It’s one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke and is often related to cholesterol plaques caused by atherosclerosis.

A blood clot that forms in the veins is called a venous thrombosis. The veins are the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart.

Most commonly occurring in the legs, a venous thrombosis may develop in the surface veins (superficial thrombophlebitis). This can cause tenderness, redness, and swelling near the affected vein.

While this type of clot is uncomfortable and requires treatment, it generally poses less of a health concern than those that develop in the deeper veins.

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) forms in the deep leg veins and can eventually travel through your venous system to the lungs, where it can result in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

What increases your risk of DVT?

Factors that increase your risk of developing a DVT include:

Chronic venous insufficiency related to increased pressure in your veins, a leading cause of leg swelling, varicose veins, and chronic leg wounds (venous stasis ulcers), may be caused by DVT. It also increases your risk of developing a DVT.

What are the symptoms of DVT?

Symptoms of DVT in the leg vary but may include:

The warning signs of a pulmonary embolism related to DVT include sudden shortness of breath, moderate to severe chest pain that worsens with a deep breath, and dizziness or confusion. These symptoms require immediate medical care.

How do you treat DVT?

Effective treatment for DVT begins with a confirmation of the diagnosis. Dr. Marzouk may recommend various blood tests as well as a painless in-office imaging study (duplex ultrasound) to confirm the diagnosis and location of the clot.

Treatment then focuses on preventing the clot from enlarging or breaking loose and traveling to your lungs.

Your strategy may include medication (blood thinners) to stop the existing clot from growing larger and decrease your risk of developing clots in the future. If the clot is severe, you may require a thrombolytic (“clot buster” medication) to help dissolve the clot.

Dr. Marzouk may also consider installing a type of filter in the large vein (vena cava) in your abdomen to prevent clots that break loose from lodging in your lungs.

To schedule an evaluation regarding your risk factors for DVT or other services we offer at Frontier Medical Care, call the office today or request an appointment online

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