Comprehensive Vascular and Endovascular Care
What is Venous Thromboembolism
Q: What is a Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)?
A: DVT are blood clots in the veins.
The deep veins bring blood back from the legs to the heart where it can be pumped to the lungs to add more oxygen. People with venous disease or those at high risk for it can develop DVT without warning.
Q: What is a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?
A: When DVT are not diagnosed and treated, they can break loose and travel to the lungs and be fatal. This is called a pulmonary embolism, or PE. A simple ultrasound test can diagnose DVT. Effective treatment can almost eliminate the risk of fatal PE.
Q: What causes DVT?
A: Pooling of blood in the veins occurs anytime activity of the legs is restricted. This can happen after an injury, surgery, or any hospital stay, or it can be as simple as sitting during a long airplane flight.
Q: What about abnormal blood clotting?
A: An increase risk of DVT can run in families. But most DVT are the result of changes in the blood clotting system that may occur after injury, surgery, or other illness like cancer or heart disease.
Q: What about trauma to the veins?
A: Hip and leg fractures occur frequently. Damage to the veins in these cases is initially silent, but the risk for DVT and PE is high!
Q: What are the risk factors for DVT?
- Advanced age
- Family or personal history of DVT
- Hormonal changes
- Past history of heart attack or stroke
- Prolonged immobility during travel
- Serious infections
- Surgery or other hospitalizations
Q: What are the symptoms of Venous Thromboembolism?
A: DVT – DVT caused leg pain and swelling, but after injury or recent surgery, these symptoms are often ignored. In too many cases DVT cause no symptoms at all until PE occurs.
PE – Pulmonary embolism produces chest pain and severe shortness of breath. PE is often mistaken for a heart attack, and can be just as lethal.
Q: How can you diagnose DVT?
A: A simple ultrasound scan can diagnose most acute DVT. Venous ultrasound scanning is a painless, non-invasive test that is used in most cased and is very accurate.
Q: How can DVT be treated?
A: Blood thinning medications –examples; heparin or warfarin
Many newer medical treatments are being developed today. In the past you had to be in the hospital for a week or more. Now DVT can be treated with a short hospital stay and out patient treatment.
Q: What is thrombolytic therapy?
A: “Clot busters”
Q: What is thrombectomy?
A: Removal of clots using catheters or surgery.
Q: How can I prevent a DVT?
- Discuss you risk factors with your doctor
- Remain active
- Wear support stockings during times of high risk
- Mechanical pumps can improve venous flow when you are sick or injured
- Take blood thinning medications when prescribed by your doctor