Deep vein thrombosis is a stage of vein disease that can lead to life-threatening complications. That is why interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra and his team at Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute, located in Dallas and Hurst, Texas, specialize in screening for, diagnosing, and treating vein conditions as early as possible. Here, we describe why DVT is a cause for concern.
Your circulatory system is composed of blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood and nutrients to your body’s tissues and return deoxygenated blood to the lungs and heart. The arteries handle the outgoing blood, and the veins manage the incoming blood.
Veins, though, have the more difficult task — they have to move the blood to the upper body while fighting against the pull of gravity. When there’s a fault in the system and blood flow becomes sluggish, it’s called venous insufficiency because the veins can’t meet the body’s needs.
Sluggish flow can result from either damage to a vein wall or to one of the one-way valves inside the vein that keeps blood flowing in one direction. Such damage may occur due to injury, high blood pressure, or plaque formation in the vessels that narrows the conduit.
Damaged valves can’t snap shut completely, which means blood that’s passed through the valve is free to backtrack, pooling around the damaged area. As a result, the vein engorges, causing thick, ropy, and colored protrusions on your legs — varicose veins.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) happens when venous insufficiency isn’t addressed, leading to poor overall circulation. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence; about 40% of the population is affected by it at some point during their lives.
Varicose veins are superficial veins, which is why they protrude from the legs when they fill with blood. If they’re not treated and blood flow remains sluggish, the insufficiency begins to affect veins deep in the leg tissue. Pooled blood is more likely to cause blood cells to clump together, forming a clot. A clot in these deep veins is called deep vein thrombosis.
It’s also possible for clots to form if your veins are narrowed or blocked due to plaque build-up, if you spend a lot of time sitting, or if you’re on bed rest following surgery.
Clots not only impede blood flow, but they can also break free from the vein wall and travel through the bloodstream. If they reach the lungs and block a pulmonary artery, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE) — a life-threatening condition.
The goal of treating DVT is to break up the clots and prevent them from reaching the lungs.
According to the CDC, DVT causes symptoms only in about half of the people who have it. Typical symptoms include:
Signs the clot is causing a PE include:
If you experience any signs of a PE, call 911 or go to your local emergency room!
If you haven’t had a vein check recently, you have early vein disease (CVI or varicose veins), or you’re experiencing symptoms of DVT, it’s time to come into Dallas Vein Institute or Texas Vascular Institute for an evaluation with Dr. Batra.
To get started, call us at either our Dallas or Hurst, Texas, location, or book your appointment online.