The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year, one or two of every 1,000 people have deep vein (venous) thrombosis (DVT). And every year, 60,000 to 100,000 of them die from a DVT complication called pulmonary embolism.
At Memphis Vein Center, board-certified cardiologist Kishore Arcot, MD, has years of experience diagnosing and treating DVT, helping our patients prevent long-term complications and live a thriving, active life.
We know how important it is to seek prompt treatment for DVT. The only way to know you need treatment is to learn the five signs.
If you have questions about your symptoms, we’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to call. In the meantime, here’s the information you need to know about your risk for DVT and how you can recognize its symptoms.
Risk factors for deep vein thrombosis
Any time a blood vessel is damaged, specialized cells go to the area and stop the bleeding by forming a gel-like clot. When the bleeding risk is over, your body naturally dissolves the blood clot.
Unfortunately, blood clots can form when they shouldn’t, and sometimes they fail to dissolve. An unwanted blood clot is called a thrombosis. When the clot develops in a vein deep in your leg, it causes DVT.
Unwanted blood clots form when one or more of the following three things happen: Your blood flow slows down, something makes your blood clot more easily than normal, or you suffer damage to the veins.
The top risk factors contributing to the three criteria include:
- Sitting for a long time
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Traumatic injuries
- Hip or leg surgery
- Certain medications
- Chronic inflammatory disease
- Family history of blood clots
You also have a higher risk of developing blood clots as you get older.
Signs of deep vein thrombosis
Your symptoms could appear suddenly, making it obvious you have a problem. The signs can also develop so slowly you barely notice them. And for about half of all people with DVT, the signs never appear until they have a pulmonary embolism.
These are the five primary signs of DVT:
Leg pain occurs in about half of all people who have DVT. Your pain may occur suddenly and cause severe discomfort. If that happens, you know you need immediate medical attention.
Your leg pain could also be generic or nonspecific and easy to mistake for a muscle ache. In some cases, you may find that the pain feels worse when you bend your foot up.
Edema or swelling
When a blood clot blocks the vein, fluids start to build up in the tissues of your lower leg. As a result, you have swelling in your lower leg.
At least 70% of patients develop tenderness in the affected leg. Your leg may feel tender to touch above the calf muscles or along the vein where it runs through the inner side of your thigh.
Warm, red skin
The skin over the blood clot may turn red and feel warm.
The skin on your affected leg may turn a reddish-purple or blue color. Though it’s quite rare, your skin may appear pale or blanched, a color change that happens if the clot completely blocks the vein.
Signs of pulmonary embolism
DVT turns into a life-threatening condition when the clot breaks away from your leg vein, travels through your body, and gets stuck in your lungs.
This condition, pulmonary embolism (PE), can happen even when you don’t have symptoms of DVT, so it’s good to know the signs of PE:
- Sudden chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing (with or without blood)
- Excessive sweating
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
As the clot stops blood from flowing through your lungs, essential organs don’t get the oxygen they need to survive. That’s when PE turns into a life-threatening problem.
If you suspect you have DVT or you’re concerned about symptoms, don’t wait to call us at our Memphis, Tennessee, center or schedule an appointment online.