DVT can occur when something causes the flow of blood in your veins to slow down or change. It can happen spontaneously, or it may be the result of an underlying condition or external influence, including:
Although DVTs are more common in adults older than 60, your risk of developing deep-vein blood clots increases if you smoke, use oral contraceptives, take hormone replacement medications, are overweight or obese, or have a family history of DVT.
A blood clot that forms in the deep, large veins of your thigh or lower leg can cause the affected leg to swell, feel achy or painful, and develop varicose veins near the blocked vein. Left untreated, DVT can lead to the formation of skin ulcers, which are slow-healing open wounds.
The most serious complication of an untreated DVT, is an increased risk of having a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a newly formed blood clot breaks loose and travels to your lungs.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest pain, and a cough that may be accompanied by blood. Because this condition can be fatal, seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.
DVT is usually treated with anticoagulants, which are medications that thin the blood and prevent ongoing blood clot formation. Several oral blood thinning medications such as Xarelto®, Pradaxa®, Eliquis® and Coumadin® are used to treat most DVT and pulmonary embolism cases after they occur.
Severe symptoms require a clot-busting drug which activates the body’s own clot-busting mechanisms to actually dissolve the blood clot. These medicines can help dissolve blood clots in the lungs or large leg veins. They’re administered through a catheter placed in the appropriate veins or lung arteries.
Other conditions may require pulmonary embolism surgery (an embolectomy) may be performed to remove a clot; pulmonary embolism lytic therapy may also be in order.
Patients with blood clots in the iliac (pelvic) veins will also frequently also undergo angioplasty and stenting after the blood clot is dissolved.
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