Poor blood circulation often manifests itself through varicose veins, or enlarged and gnarled veins generally found in a person’s legs. But what’s underneath the surface may be an even greater problem than these unsightly varicose veins, what’s referred to as deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis (also known as DVT) is a condition characterized by blood clots in the legs, although clots can also form in other areas with poor blood flow. Knowing if you are at risk for blood clots and deep vein thrombosis can help you meet with a vein specialist sooner to treat such clots before they become a danger to you.
Risk Factors for Blood Clots
- Varicose Veins: One recent study showed that patients with varicose veins are 5x more likely to develop blood clots and DVT than those without varicose veins. Although not every individual with varicose veins will have blood clots, the chances are much higher, especially if no varicose vein treatment is sought out.
- Pregnancy: Women often develop varicose veins and blood clots while pregnant. Sometimes this is because of an increase in blood to support their growing baby or hormones that can dilate veins. The more veins dilate, the more blood pools down in legs, giving way for clots to form.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Blood will flow more easily through veins with regular exercise and hydration. But many individuals work or live in an environment with little to no physical activity which can lead to the onset of varicose veins and blood clots. Patients on bedrest after surgery, for example, are kept under close watch and may be prescribed blood thinning medication for fear of blood clots forming.
- Obesity: Like with pregnancy, more weight bearing down on your legs can strain veins and cause blood to collect in the legs where DVT may develop. Although not always the case, many individuals over a recommended body weight also live lifestyles with little exercise and unhealthy diets that restrict proper blood flow.
Complications Due to Blood Clots
Many patients live months or even years without knowing that they have blood clots since deep vein thrombosis doesn’t always exhibit symptoms. In other cases, DVT can cause patients to feel leg pain, swelling, and other uncomfortable side effects. The real danger from blood clots, though, comes from complications when clots leave the legs.
While in a patient’s legs, blood clots may not pose a serious health hazard. However, should the blood clots move from veins in the legs to vital organs such as the lungs or heart, they may block blood flow to part of the organ. When this occurs, organs may begin to shut down without their needed blood supply.
Pulmonary embolism is one instance of this occurring when a blood clot will make its way to an individual’s lungs. Quick treatment to remove the blood clot may be necessary as this can turn into a life-threatening condition. Should you notice signs of a pulmonary embolism including sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, contact a doctor as soon as possible.
DVT Treatment Near You
Before a blood clot reaches such major organs, patients can have blood clots treated with anticoagulation (blood thinners). First understand if you may be at risk for deep vein thrombosis and blood clots. Doing so and addressing them early on can avert serious complications like pulmonary embolism that may put your life in jeopardy or be causing you uncomfortable leg pain.
For DVT treatment in St. George and southern Utah, visit a Heart of Dixie Vein & Vascular Center near you. We are experts in the treatment of blood clots before they reach major organs and can assist you in creating a diet and exercise plan to help prevent deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins in the future. Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations nearest you to treat blood clots sooner and help prevent dangerous side effects!