Vein and arteries carry blood continuously throughout your life, keeping your heart pumping and other organs functioning. When you get a cut or scrape, clots prevent blood from spilling out. However, when blood clots for other reasons, it can be a result of life-threatening medical problems. Learn more about blood clots and your treatment options if you discover that you’re suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Have vein questions? Contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic in Rockford, IL for more information.
What is a Blood Clot?
Platelets are the part of your blood that is activated when blood vessels are damaged. They release chemicals that attract additional platelets and proteins. These substances stick to each other and the walls of your body to effectively plug the leak. As more particles get tangled with each other, trapping cells and platelets, the clump (or blood clot) grows rapidly, ensuring the damaged tissue is repaired. Then, when it is no longer needed, it breaks up, and your body absorbs the cells again.
When are Blood Clots Dangerous?
If a clot blocks blood flow in a vein, it is considered dangerous. This is typically a result of a trauma, effects after surgery when a person is immobile for an extended time, or no apparent reason at all. When clots form in deep veins, it is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (or DVT) and generally occurs in your pelvis, thigh or calf. Once dislodged, they can block the flow of blood to the lungs and heart, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. If you are worried you may have DVT, contact a vein specialist like Dr. Gilvydis for a professional diagnosis.
Diagnosing the Condition
Although DVT doesn’t always have noticeable signs, if you have difficulty walking or intense pain in your leg, look for additional symptoms such as:
- The skin on your leg is unusually warm
- One or both of your legs suddenly swell
- Your legs appear red or discolored
- Veins are tender to touch or hard
In severe cases, these symptoms are accompanied by sharp chest pain, sudden coughing with blood presenting, shortness of breath, pain when you breathe or fast heartbeat. Doctors can run tests that help determine if the symptoms are a result of blood clots.
An ultrasound sends sound waves through tissue and reflects back to create a moving image, enabling specialists to see if a clot exists.
Blood tests can indicate whether D-Dimer levels are elevated.
MRI or CT scans can also provide a picture of your veins, revealing a clot.
DVT Risk Factors
If you are over the age of 50 or require surgery in the lower extremities, you may be at higher risk for blood clots. Individuals who are overweight, smoke, have a family history of DVT and stay seated for long periods are more likely to develop DVT.
Medication for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Doctors typically prescribe blood thinners – also called anticoagulants – to stop a clot from growing and new clumps from forming. Depending on the severity of the issue and personal circumstances, medication can be delivered intravenously, injected or taken in a pill form. Clot busters – or thrombolytics – may be prescribed if the clot is dangerous and blood thinners are not working fast enough.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment at Home
In addition to medications, there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help treat symptoms and potentially prevent new clots from forming.
- Movements and activities that can be completed while sitting down can help the blood circulate. Examples include foot pumps, knee pulls and ankle circles.
- Get moving by taking frequent short walks.
- Raising your legs close to hip level help to prevent blood from pooling.
- Wear compression socks as they reduce swelling and increase blood flow.
Compassionate, Expert Vein Care in Rockford, IL
If you or someone you know suffers from DVT, contact the specialists at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic. From diagnostic imaging and medications to personalized treatment plans, our experienced team of physicians has the technology and skills needed to help you achieve the best outcome possible.