Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where a blood clot develops in the veins of your leg. In isolation, this is not necessarily dangerous. However, deep vein thrombosis can lead to other conditions, including a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening.

Understanding what deep vein thrombosis is, what causes it, the types of DVT treatment options that are available, and where to go for help is a critical part of maintaining your vascular health.

What is deep vein thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis — also known as DVT — is a potentially life-threatening vascular condition. Statistics suggest that deep vein thrombosis affects approximately 52 in every 100,000 Australians every year, making it relatively common.

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot occurs in a deep vein, usually in the leg. If the clot becomes dislodged, it can potentially travel through the bloodstream to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Post-thrombotic syndrome is another associated side-effect of deep vein thrombosis that can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. A clot in your legs may destroy the valves in your veins, causing chronic aching and swelling that can be very difficult to manage

What causes deep vein thrombosis?

Blood clots can form for a variety of reasons, most of which relate to a slower than normal blood flow or a problem with the blood itself.

Patients diagnosed with DVT have often spent a considerable period sitting or lying down — perhaps recovering from surgery in a hospital bed or stuck on a long-haul flight. They may also have been recently diagnosed with a serious disease or injury, such as cancer or heart disease. The use of the oral contraceptive pill and menopause have also been linked to an increased risk of developing DVT.

Sometimes, deep vein thrombosis occurs for no discernable reason at all. Individuals should also be wary if they have a family history of blood clots or other vascular conditions.

What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

Unfortunately, deep vein thrombosis often occurs without symptoms. Given the life-threatening nature of a pulmonary embolism, this is a dangerous set of circumstances.

Symptoms that do suggest you might be suffering from a blood clot include:

  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Unusual warmth in the affected area
  • Unusual skin discolouration in the affected area.

Signs and symptoms that a blood clot has travelled to your lungs include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain that prevents you from taking a full breath
  • Cough (may produce bloody mucus)
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness

If you notice any of the above symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately. A pulmonary embolism is life-threatening.

What are the treatment options for deep vein thrombosis?

Once a clot has been identified, steps can be taken to remove it.

Dr. Adrian Ling has been providing DVT treatment to patients for many years and will work with you to tailor your treatment according to your specific circumstances.

You may be prescribed a medication that thins your blood and reduces the risk of clots occurring. Alternatively, clots can be directly removed by spraying a ‘clot-busting’ medication into the affected vein and removing what is left using a specialised vacuum catheter.

Dr. Ling provides comprehensive patient care and wherever possible, uses minimally invasive techniques and DVT treatments to ensure a pain-free process and quick recovery time.

How can I prevent deep vein thrombosis from occurring?

It is difficult to directly prevent DVT from occurring. However, there are certainly ways that you can alter your lifestyle to improve your overall vascular health.

Smoking should be avoided, as it is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and linked to a number of different vascular conditions. Ensure you get an appropriate amount of exercise daily and avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Being overweight will put excess pressure on all parts of your body, including your vascular system.

Some individuals may find wearing compression garments to be useful, particularly in situations where you have to remain still for a long period of time — like an international flight. However, these garments are not always comfortable.

Who should I speak to about my vascular concerns?

If you are concerned about your vascular health or believe you may be showing symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, your first point of contact should be your general practitioner. They will be able to provide you with a reference to a “vascular surgeon near me” if they believe you require specialist advice.

Dr Ling has been helping patients in Melbourne’s northern and central areas manage their vascular health for many years now. He is passionate about providing comprehensive, tailored solutions and helping individuals get back to feeling their best.

For more information about Dr Ling’s services and to discuss booking an appointment for DVT treatment, contact him today.