Sometimes it can be just a severe bruise from a bike fall, or swollen legs after a gym workout or a long-haul flight. Ailments and sores that in most cases really are what they seem to be and can be ignored without further attention. Unfortunately, there are cases when these little ailments are just symptoms of a much more serious condition – deep vein (or venous) thrombosis, also known as simply DVT.
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your body, usually in lower extremities. The blood clot itself is not life-threatening, although it does become extremely painful the longer it blocks healthy blood circulation and affects vein valves. The problem is that when a blood clot forms in deep veins, it can break off and travel towards the lungs, where it blocks the blood flow and can potentially be fatal.
Deep vein thrombosis doesn’t just magically occur – there are various risk factors that contribute to developing a blood clot. The more of these factors combined, the higher the risk:
- Medical history (genetic blood disorders, heart disease, cancer)
- Bed rest and immobilization
- Long traveling (sitting on a plane or in a car)
- Surgery (this is usually in combination with bed rest following the surgery)
- Excess weight
- Birth control pills
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Impaired blood flow
None of these factors are extremely risky on their own, but start combining them together and you have a perfect recipe for a disaster.
Varicose veins are not a direct cause of deep vein thrombosis, but they are always related to some sort of venous insufficiency and poor blood circulation, both of which are contributing factors in the development of DVT. In other words, if you have varicose veins, you should always be careful about other risk factors causing DVT, and probably consult risky situations (such as long-haul flights or post-surgery measures) with your doctor. He will know best how to prevent anything dangerous from happening.