Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where a blood clot forms in a deep leg vein, most commonly in the calf or thigh.
This can cause a partial or full blockage of the flow of blood in this area – which can cause concern and a sufferer may seek medical attention to relieve discomfort. At this stage DVT is not life threatening, but it has the potential to become dangerous if complications occur. If you suspect you may have a DVT you urgently need an ultrasound of your deep veins which can be performed at Palm Clinic. If we find a DVT management is with low molecular weight heparin (Clexane) and then conversion to a minimum of three months of Warfarin.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of DVT?
- localised leg pain
- enlargement of the superficial veins
- skin discolouration
- warm skin
- swelling in the affected leg
When does DVT become dangerous?
Deep Vein Thrombosis becomes particularly dangerous if the blood clot that occurred in the deep leg vein begins to move through the body. The clot can dislodge itself from the leg vein and move upwards to attach itself to the vein that sits between the lungs and the heart. This can cause a Pulmonary Embolus and result in a life threatening condition. Symptoms include severe chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing blood.
Who is likely to develop DVT?
Clot formation tends to occur when the blood flow is restricted in a vein. The decreased flow and poor circulation can have a number of causes. No one is immune to the risk of DVT however there are individuals considered "high-risk".
You may be at risk if you:
- have had recent physical damage to a deep leg vein* (from surgery or a serious knock)
- undergo long-haul car or plane travel (over four hours duration)
- have heart disease*
- have Diabetes*
- have had a recent heart attack or stroke*
- have other conditions such as liver disease, infections and some cancers*
- are over 40 years of age
- are pregnant
- are overweight
- are under four feet tall (who cannot put their feet on the floor), and over six feet tall (who are more cramped in seating positions)
- are on the contraceptive pill
- have varicose veins or a history of circulatory problems*
* Those with one or more of these conditions (marked with an asterisk) should seek medical advice before travelling and choosing appropriate compression hosiery.
How to prevent DVT?
People taking long haul flights (over 4 hours) can take a number of precautions to help reduce the risk of getting Deep Vein Thrombosis:
- Wearing Compression Hosiery – Palm Clinic has a range of Stockings and Pantyhose available. Compression hosiery can help travellers by providing legs with the extra support they require to ensure correct circulation. This helps blood return back to the heart and lungs preventing leg swelling. Seek medical advice before choosing appropriate compression hosiery.
- Drink lots of non alcoholic/decaffinated fluids – this will help to stop dehydration. Drinking plenty of water is recommended, and avoiding alcohol, coffee and tea as these dehydrate the body.
- Wear loose fitting clothes – tight clothing such as skin jeans can serve to slow blood circulation down.
- Aspirin 75-150mg – At present there is no evidence to support this but is often recommended because aspirin can prevent clotting by affecting platelet function.
- Use the footrest – particularly if your legs do not reach the floor comfortably.
- Walk around the cabin – and do exercises to contract and relax calf muscles and ankles throughout the flight. Inactivity causes blood to build up in the lower parts of the body such as the ankles, calves and feet. This is due to the veins being unable to pump the blood to the heart, as they rely on leg muscle movement to pump the blood upwards.
- Do not cross your legs – this reduces the pressure on the lower leg and restricts blood circulation.