DVT: Causes, symptoms and how you can prevent it

Woman's leg
Deep vein thrombosis affects millions worldwide.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where blood clots develop in the circulatory veins of the leg causing pain and tenderness. A definitive cause of DVT is unknown and it can sometimes appear for no reason. However, there are a few factors that make you more likely to develop DVT. These include, but are not limited to a genetic disposition, if you are a smoker, pregnancy and if you are overweight. Blood thinning medication and compression stockings are the recommended way to treat DVT. If you’re trying to ward off DVT there are many preventative measures you can take.

What are the symptoms?

Those with DVT will experience pain and tenderness in their legs, pain when elongating the foot, swelling and skin that is red in appearance. The affected area can also feel warm.

These symptoms can appear when you have been inactive for a long period of time. This could be due to surgery or even a long-haul flight. This is why movement and exercise are so important as your life becomes more sedentary.

People with DVT are at risk of having a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when the clot dislodges from the vein and makes its way into the pulmonary artery. This can result in death if the clot lodges inside the lung and makes it difficult to breathe.

Ad. Article continues below.

How do I prevent it?

Moving around is one of the best things you can do to prevent DVT. Movement gets your circulation working and stimulates the flow of blood to your legs. It is especially important to move after surgery, illness or injury. If you find it too strenuous to regularly move around you can still do leg exercises sitting down. Raising and lowering your heels and keeping your toes on the ground promotes circulation throughout your legs. Even simply tightening and releasing your leg muscles is beneficial.

If you have leg pain it is a good idea to get tested for DVT. If you are pregnant, overweight, a smoker or have a heart condition you have a higher likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis, so it is good to get checked by a doctor. If you have checked with your doctor and are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis you can ask for compression stockings and medication (anticoagulants) as preventative measures.

Drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy weight are also great preventative measures for reducing your chance of developing DVT. Smoking, drinking alcohol and drinking coffee are all not recommended for those with deep vein thrombosis

How do you live with deep vein thrombosis? Are there any tips you have for alleviating the pain?