Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that’s serious and life threatening. How serious? Statistics say that 10-30% will die within one month of their diagnosis. However, that’s because many don’t know the warning signs, so they fail to get medical treatment before the condition turns serious.
The good news is that DVT can be successfully treated and stabilized when it’s diagnosed as early as possible. That’s why our team at Vein Health Clinics wants to let you know how to recognize the top warning signs of deep vein thrombosis.
Why deep vein thrombosis is dangerous
Thrombosis is a medical term that refers to a blood clot. When you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you develop a blood clot in a vein that’s deep below the surface. While DVT may affect your arms or pelvis, it most often occurs in the lower leg.
DVT becomes a serious health threat when a piece of the blood clot breaks loose, travels through the bloodstream to your lungs, and blocks blood flow in one of the pulmonary arteries. This condition, called a pulmonary embolism can be life threatening.
Factors that increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis
DVT can develop when blood flow slows down in the vein or the blood vessel wall is damaged by an injury, inflammation, or surgery. Blood clots are also more likely to form when your blood is thicker or more likely to clot due to an imbalance in the biochemicals that control clotting.
Here’s a look at some of the factors that increase your risk for DVT:
- Injury or surgery
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Inherited blood-clotting disorder
One of the primary risk factors for DVT is immobility. You may become immobile due to a long ride in a car or airplane, or when you spend an extended time in bed, whether due to an illness, injury, or surgery.
As leg muscles contract while you walk, the pressure pushes blood up through your veins. If you sit still too long — even if you’re just sitting in front of the TV or working at your computer — your blood doesn’t circulate properly, and your risk for blood clots increases.
Top warning signs of deep vein thrombosis
You may not experience any symptoms at first, but when they appear, you’ll develop these warning signs:
About 70% of all patients develop swelling, which is the top warning sign of DVT. If your DVT is in your thigh or calf, you’ll only have swelling in the affected leg. However, if the blood clot is in your pelvis, you can develop swelling in both legs.
Leg pain is the second most common sign, as it appears in 50% of all patients. Your pain may be mild or severe, but the extent of the pain isn’t associated with the size of the blood clot. The pain caused by a DVT, which may feel more like a cramp or tender area, is usually felt in the calf muscles or along the vein as it travels down your inner thigh.
Changes in your skin
Your skin may appear red or discolored. Additionally, the area of your leg that’s swollen or painful may also feel warmer than the rest of your skin.
Pain when your foot is flexed
Some patients feel pain when they flex their foot, moving the foot so the toes point up toward your knee.
Warning signs of pulmonary embolism
In about 25% of people with a DVT, the first symptom is sudden death due to a pulmonary embolism. For this reason, it’s vital to recognize the warning signs of pulmonary embolism, which are:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden chest pain that worsens when you take a breath
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Rapid pulse
- Coughing up blood
At the first sign of a pulmonary embolism, call 9-1-1 so that you can get emergency medical attention.
Even if your warning signs of deep vein thrombosis are mild, call Vein Health Clinics right away so we can determine whether you have DVT and start life-saving treatment. Our Florida offices are in Oviedo, Apopka, and Winter Haven, so contact the one most convenient for you.