Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a circulatory system problem that affects over 900,000 people each year. It also can be life-threatening — as many as 30% of people die within the first month after diagnosis. Since it doesn’t always cause symptoms, many people don’t know they have it until they reach a medical crisis.
At Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute, interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra has spent more than a decade diagnosing and treating all manner of vein problems, including DVT. He’s committed to helping his patients in the Dallas and Hurst, Texas, area avoid the potential complications from this condition using the latest technologies available. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of DVT.
Vein disease is a progressive problem that starts in the venous portion of your circulatory system. While your arteries convey oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, your veins return deoxygenated blood to the heart.
Unfortunately, they have to work against the pull of gravity. One way they accomplish the task is by muscle contractions in the calf and thigh, which push the blood upward. Another way is by using a series of one-way valves that close once the blood passes through, preventing backflow.
Valves, though, can be damaged, either by injury or by the force of high blood pressure. If that happens, they’re unable to close completely, causing sluggish blood to flow and pool around the valves. That state is known as chronic venous insufficiency. The most readily apparent effect of CVI is engorged, colored swellings on the calves and thighs — varicose veins.
Varicose veins usually affect the superficial veins, which is why they stand out on the legs. If blood flow remains sluggish and begins to affect veins deep in the leg tissue, it can cause a blood clot — deep vein thrombosis. The clots can also form if your veins are narrowed or blocked due to plaque; if you spend most of your time sitting; or if you’re on bed rest following surgery..
The danger of clots is they can break free from the vein wall and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. If they block a pulmonary artery, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE) — a life-threatening condition.
According to the CDC, DVT only causes symptoms in about half of people who have it. The symptoms include:
Signs the clot has broken free and is causing a PE include:
If you recognize the signs of a PE, call 911 or go to your local emergency room!
When you come in for an evaluation, Dr. Batra takes a detailed medical history and performs a thorough physical exam before creating a treatment plan. It may include one or more of the following:
If you have large clots or they’re causing damage to your tissues, Dr. Batra may recommend a surgical procedure such as a thrombectomy. Here, he makes an incision in the affected vein, locates the clot and removes it, then repairs the damaged vessel and tissue.
If you have varicose veins and want to reduce your risk of developing DVT, Dr. Batra may recommend a minimally invasive procedure like sclerotherapy. Here, he injects a saline solution into the affected vein. The solution irritates the lining, causing it to swell and the walls to collapse. Your body reroutes blood flow to nearby healthy veins, and the diseased vein is flushed out.
If you’re experiencing varicose veins or some of the signs of DVT, it’s time to come to Dallas Vein Institute or Texas Vascular Institute for an evaluation and proper treatment. Give us a call at either of our locations or book your appointment online today.