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Diagnosing and Treating Deep Vein Thrombosis

by Alex Kilpatrick

Blood clots pose a silent yet serious health concern. One of the most common types of blood clots forms in the veins of the leg and is called a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. According to statistics, between 300,000 and 600,000 patients in the United States are diagnosed with DVTs every single year. If left untreated, these clots can break away from the leg, travel through the bloodstream and become lodged in the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, which is potentially life-threatening.

For obvious reasons, DTVs should be avoided at all costs. So what causes blood clots in the legs, how do you know if you've got one, and what can be done once it's formed?

How Do DVTs Form?

Unfortunately, blood clots can form in the legs for a variety of different reasons. Some of the most common causes are related to lifestyle choices. For example, remaining sedentary for long stretches of the day can increase your likelihood of developing a clot. Similarly, obesity, smoking and heart disease can also lead to blood clots. Other causes, however, are entirely outside of your control, such as family history, autoimmune disorders, cancer and advanced age.

What are the Symptoms?

As with the causes of deep vein thrombosis, the symptoms can be incredibly varied. Generally, they include some combination of pain in the legs, swelling in the affected area, a warm sensation in the skin, and even skin that becomes discolored. If the clot has already traveled to the lungs, there are more alarming symptoms associated with a pulmonary embolism, which include dizziness, chest pain, difficulty breathing and a rapid pulse. Without question, if you notice any of the latter symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately.

How are DTVs Treated?

If a DVT is detected early enough, then treatment is relatively simple. Generally, the goal is to reduce the size of the clot, so doctors will routinely prescribe blood thinners for a set period of time. When blood thinners don't work or they're not a safe option, than alternative methods may be used.

The real problem, however, is if the clot has already formed a pulmonary embolism. This is a serious medical emergency, and over 50% of patients die within six months after being diagnosed. Depending on the severity of the clot causing the embolism, it may be treated with blood thinners or some type of surgery to physically remove it from the body.

DVTs are certainly scary, and there may be no surefire way to stop them from forming. But if you make good lifestyle choices, you can dramatically reduce your chances of developing these life-threatening blood clots.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about vein treatment, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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