A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in one of the large, deep veins of the body. The blood clot, or thrombus, can cause circulation problems, pain and other symptoms. A deep vein thrombosis can also cause a number of health complications, some of which can be life threatening.Veins in the legs are most susceptible to blood clot formation, but deep vein thrombosis can occur in any large vein, including blood vessels in the pelvis and arms. The location and size of the blood clot often determines the severity of symptoms.
Blood Clot Symptoms and DVT
Localized pain and swelling are the most common blood clot symptoms. The area around the blood clot may be red, swollen, or possibly bluish in color. Further, vein inflammation, or thrombophlebitis, often occurs with DVT. Depending on the size and location of the blood clot, veins may feel hard to the touch.
Less common symptoms of a blood clot include:
coughing up blood
feelings of anxiety
shortness of breath
Shortness of breath and chest pain are serious symptoms that may indicate a clot in the lungs, also called a pulmonary embolism. However, even mild blood clot symptoms should be reported to a health professional immediately. While many blood clots dissolve naturally within a week or two of formation, waiting for DVT symptoms to resolve on their own can be fatal.
Unfortunately, symptoms of a blood clot are not present in as many as fifty percent of deep vein thrombosis cases and clinical imaging or other tools are required to make a diagnosis. When deep vein thrombosis symptoms do develop, they tend to appear within an hour or two of blood clot formation.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Risk Factors
Possible risk factors for DVT include:
prolonged bed rest
childbirth (within the past six months)
genetic coagulation disorders
hormone replacement therapy
long airplane flights
surgery (especially knee and hip surgery).
The risk of deep vein thrombosis increases when multiple risk factors are present. For instance, a woman undergoing hormone replacement therapy is more likely to develop a blood clot if she is also recovering from knee surgery.
DVT and Genetic Disorders
Genetic coagulation disorders increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Genetic defects can affect a number of coagulation proteins and chemicals, including antithrombin III, protein C, protein S, factor V Leiden, and prothrombin, all of which are critical components of the coagulation process. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also increase the chance of DVT formation.