A recent study has suggested that Covid-19 patients may be in danger of developing life-threatening blood clots, such as those seen with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Often underdiagnosed, deep vein thrombosis can be difficult to diagnose and can lead to damage in the valves of the veins, and in some cases, death.
In this article, we will discuss what deep vein thrombosis is and how you can spot early signs and symptoms, along with the best treatments currently available.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical condition that can occur when a blood clot forms inside a vein, found deep inside the body. Mostly found in legs this condition is, unfortunately, often left undiagnosed.
A blood clot is formed when platelets and red blood cells clump together and become solid. These can become large enough to block blood flow in our veins. Throughout our bodies, we have both superficial and deep veins. Clots are most commonly found in deeper veins, and they can become very dangerous.
In the event that a piece of the clot breaks free, it can potentially travel up and through the heart. It will then become lodged in the pulmonary arteries and will likely cause a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism prevents the correct flow of blood and oxygen into the lungs and can be fatal.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes
Anybody can suffer from deep vein thrombosis, but there are a few people that are more likely to present with blood clots. These people can include:
- Injury to a vein after an accident resulting in a fracture
- People confined to bed rest
- Patients with limited movement after a surgery
- People that sit for long periods of time, such as office workers
- Women with increased estrogen, such as from birth control or when pregnant
- People with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or inflammatory bowel disease
Although the above group has a higher likelihood of developing blood clots, they are not the only people susceptible. Knowing the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis is important to anyone that may be suffering from swelling or chronic cramping of the leg.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms
Diagnosing a blood clot involves your doctor performing an ultrasound on the affected area and in some cases, an MRI. However, these procedures are costly and may not be ordered if the patient is not considered at risk.
The following are common symptoms of deep vein thrombosis of the leg that should be taken into account in the event you visit your doctor:
- Swelling in the leg, foot, or ankle, only on one side
- Constant cramping in one leg only
- Sharp pain in the foot or ankle
- Tenderness and warmth in the affected area
- Discoloration of the skin
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should visit your doctor and request an ultrasound of the area.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatments
There are a few common deep vein thrombosis treatments, one of which you can implement yourself. Exercise, walking around, and even certain mat-based movements that can be done in bed, will help to promote blood flow.
Along with this, your doctor may suggest one of the following.
Compression socks are an excellent way to relieve pain and reduce swelling. For those that may be at risk, compression socks can be worn when on bed rest, while sitting at work, and when traveling.
Though they cannot disperse a clot, they can help to reduce the chances of one forming.
Blood thinners are often prescribed for those with clots, or at risk of clots forming. They work by making it more difficult for clots to form, and work to keep any clots that do form from becoming too large.
Some commonly prescribed anticoagulant medications include:
Discuss the best options with your doctor, along with the cost of medications to find which is right for you.
In more serious cases, it is sometimes advised to have a filter surgically implanted in the vena cava. For those unable to take blood thinners, this filter will be placed in the large abdominal vein and will prevent any clots from reaching the heart. These are often short term solutions and are not recommended for extended periods of time.
Deep vein thrombosis often presents in high-risk groups, such as those stuck on bed rest, or people with pre-existing conditions. However, it is possible to form blood clots in perfectly healthy people. Getting enough exercise, even if you are on bed rest or on a long flight, can help to promote proper blood flow. Walking around or just lifting and bending the knee can help.
If you think you might be at risk or are experiencing symptoms, visit your doctor and look into compression socks and possible medications.
Check out our Health section for more helpful information.