Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot, also known as a thrombus, develops in one of the body’s deep veins. The most common area of development is the leg. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition that may lead to pulmonary embolisms.
Not only does DVT cause painful leg swelling and other symptoms, but it can also affect how the blood clots. It is a serious condition because the blood clots in the veins may loosen and break off. This means blood clots can travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs. When blood flow is blocked, pulmonary embolisms may occur.
The Facts about Pulmonary Embolisms
Pulmonary embolisms are the third most common cause of cardiovascular death in the United States, just behind heart attack and stroke. The condition is serious because it leads to death.
Warning signs of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Coughing up blood
- Dizziness, fainting, or lightheadedness
- Severe chest pain that worsens each time a breath is taken. Pain may occur when the patient coughs.
- Rapid and increased pulse rate
Deep vein thrombosis may occur when a blood clot forms in the veins running deep inside the body. The most common place for development is in the legs. While blood clots may occur anywhere in the body, areas of vast circulation are most impacted. Blood clots may be caused by anything that prevents the blood from circulating normally or properly clotting.
Risk Factors of DVT
Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing DVT. The more an individual has, the greater the risk of developing the condition, which could ultimately transition into a pulmonary embolism. Some of the risk factors include:
- Some forms of cancer that inhibits the blood to properly clot.
- Recent injury or surgery to the veins can increase the risk of developing clots.
- Genetic blood clotting condition or inherited disorder that makes clotting a problem.
- Prolonged periods of bed rest. May occur during a lengthy hospital stay or during a period of paralysis.
- Pregnancy increases venin pressure, especially if the woman is overweight.
- Obesity increases pressure on the veins, particularly in the pelvis and legs.
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as during a long flight or riding in a car. Blood clots may occur in the calves, legs, or thighs.
- A person over the age of sixty is at a higher risk for developing poor circulation and blood clot formation.
The Scary Complication – Pulmonary Embolism
The most concerning complication associated with DVT is pulmonary embolism. As mentioned above, a pulmonary embolism develops when a blood vessel in the lung becomes blocked by a thrombus (clot) that has traveled from the leg or other part of the body into the lung.
Most cases of pulmonary embolism are fatal. It is important to be aware of the signs of a pulmonary embolism and seek medical assistance immediately if symptoms occur. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if there is unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, pulse rate increase, or coughing up blood. Seek medical attention right away.
For more information contact Pulmonary & Critical Care Associates, P.C. located in Suite 290 at 586-314-0080.