When you sustain bodily injury from an accident that causes bleeding, blood clotting is your body’s natural response to help reduce blood loss. Blood clotting is safe when it stops bleeding. But sometimes, it forms when and where it is not needed. This causes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other serious medical issues.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis, usually referred to as DVT, occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more veins deep in the body. The blood clot can partially or completely stop the flow of blood in that vein. DVT usually occurs in the lower legs, thigh, or pelvis, but it can also form in other parts of the body, such as the arm, brain, liver, and kidney.
What Are the Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
The main causes of deep vein thrombosis are damage to the vein from infection, injury, or anything that prevents blood from flowing properly through the vein. The following factors also increase the risk of developing DVT:
- Being older than sixty years of age, although DVT can develop at any age
- Having a personal or family history of DVT
- Sitting in one position for a long time, such as during a long car, train, or plane trip, or being confined to bed after surgery or serious health issues like paralysis
- Having an injury like bone fractures or surgery in the knee, hip, or pelvis that limits the flow of blood in a deep vein
- Pregnancy or giving birth within the last six months
- Using contraceptive pills or hormone therapy
- Being overweight or obese
- Having cancer (including chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment)
- Having a genetic condition that causes your blood to clot faster than normal
- Having a long-term venous catheter or pacemaker
- Having varicose veins
Can Office Work Cause Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Yes. Office work that requires sitting at a desk for a long time can lead to the formation of severe blood clots in the legs. These clots can travel to the lungs, causing a condition called pulmonary embolism (PE), which is linked to DVT. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 900,000 people could be affected by DVT or PE each year, resulting in 60,000 to 100,000 deaths.
A study showed that working for 55 hours per week or more increases the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
What Are the Possible Complications of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
There are several possible complications of DVT. The most common ones include:
This is the most serious complication associated with DVT. It happens when a blood clot (thrombus) in a leg or any other body area breaks off, travels through the bloodstream, and gets stuck in a blood vessel in the lungs. PE can be severe when the blood clot is large and entirely stops blood from flowing to the lungs. It can cause sudden shortness of breath, chest pain while breathing in, rapid pulse and breathing, fainting, coughing up blood, and heart failure.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
This causes a leg vein to not work properly anymore. It’s a long-term problem that leads to leg pain and swelling because the blood stays in the vein instead of flowing back to the heart.
This can also be known as post-phlebitic syndrome. It is caused by the damage the clot does to the valves in the leg vein after DVT. Symptoms can include recurring leg pain, leg swelling, leg ulcers, and changes in skin color.
What Are the Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis can occur without noticeable symptoms. Most people do not notice they have DVT until it becomes severe. Symptoms of DVT in the leg include:
- Leg swelling.
- Leg pain or soreness when walking or standing up. This usually happens in the calf or thigh.
- Changes in the skin color of the affected leg to red or purple, depending on the normal skin color.
- Warm feeling of the affected leg.
These symptoms can also occur in other areas of the body where the blood clot is present.
How Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Diagnosed?
If you experience any symptoms of DVT, you should seek medical care. It can be difficult to diagnose DVT based on symptoms because there are other conditions with symptoms similar to DVT. The medical doctor will examine your symptoms and medical history, and likely run special tests to diagnose DVT correctly. The special tests and scans will check for blood clots in the veins or the lungs.
Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Cured?
Yes, DVT can be cured with an early diagnosis. The most common treatment for DVT is the use of anticoagulants, which are known as blood thinners. Anticoagulants stop new blood clots from forming and prevent existing ones from growing larger. Severe cases may require surgery to insert a filter inside the vena cava, which is a large vein in the abdomen.
The work of the filter is to stop blood clots from flowing to the heart and lungs. Sometimes, doctors may recommend wearing compression stockings to improve blood circulation and prevent further complications.
Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Prevented?
Yes. The most effective way to prevent DVT is by staying active. If you are on a long trip or have office work where you sit in one position for a long time, stand up and move around occasionally to keep your blood flowing.
If you have any medical conditions that increase the risk of having DVT or you have a history of DVT, you can avoid recurrence by following your doctor’s medical advice, taking prescribed medications, and going for regular check-ups. DVT can also be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Also, remember to drink plenty of water, because dehydration can increase your risk of having DVT.
Medical News Today: Hemophilia, coagulation and blood clotting
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots): Data and Statistics
Epidemiology: Long Working Hours and Risks of Venous Thromboembolism
Mayo Clinic: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)