Prevent DVT by Understanding the Causes
It is important to understand what causes a blood clot so that you can take preventive measures to avoid them. Thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein or artery, and deep vein thrombosis, known as DVT, indicates that the clot has formed in a deep vein within the body or the limbs. These are serious because a part of or the entire clot can break away from the original site and travel to other areas, such as the lungs or brain. Here are common causes of this type of clot.
When blood flow is sluggish, it is more likely to coagulate and form a clot. Poor circulation can itself have different causes. These include immobility. When you sit or lie in one spot for too long, blood flow slows. This is why there is an increased risk for DVT after long flights, long car trips without breaks, or illnesses that require bed rest. Some people have even developed thrombosis after prolonged episodes of playing video games.
Other causes of poor blood flow include:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Heart disease
- Genetic factors
If you are planning travel that involves long periods of sitting, talk to your doctor about ways you can prevent DVT. Customized compression stockings, taking frequent breaks to stand and move your limbs and, in some cases, prescription anticoagulants can help.
Injury is a potential cause of DVT because when blood vessels are damaged, the body tries to form clots to control the bleeding. This includes minor injuries, such as sprained ankles and torn muscles or ligaments. Deep bruises can also lead to dangerous clots.
An injury doesn’t have to be accidental for it to increase DVT risk. Surgeries, especially major surgeries to the abdomen or for removing cancers, increase your risk of developing these clots. Even cosmetic surgery can increase the risk for clots. When surgery is followed by prolonged immobilization in a hospital, the risk increases dramatically. This is why patients are often given anticoagulants in these cases and special inflatable cuffs are placed on the legs to aid circulation.
Some diseases increase your chances for developing DVT. These diseases include:
- Heart Disease – this is due to the effects on blood flow and inflammation in the body
- Clotting diseases – blood diseases like thrombophilia that increase blood’s tendency to coagulate
- Rheumatoid arthritis – this increases your chance for clots because it causes widespread inflammation in the body.
- Cancer – Cancer patients must be carefully watched for blood clots, especially when they are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Cancer alone puts patients at higher risk for clots, but chemotherapy and radiation increases the chances.
If you have a disease that makes you susceptible to DVT, discuss preventive measures with your doctor. This can include physical therapy, changes in diet, compression garments or medications.
When possible, it is best to take preventive measures against developing DVT instead of risking a clot. Although treatments exist, these can only prevent more clots from forming and prevent the existing clot from growing larger. Many DVT cases resolve and the person goes on to live a full life. When clots break away, however, the result can be fatal.