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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Home / Conditions / Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Introduction

DVT is a blood clot in a vein. It is most common in the calf muscle area, particularly following surgery and long-haul flights. It is very important this is not misdiagnosed as a calf strain because treating it as one can cause life-threatening complications.

 

Information Video

Signs & Symptoms

• Constant pain, usually in the calf muscle at the back of the lower leg.

• You may have swelling in the calf muscle area or lower limb.

• Skin temperature may seem hot to touch.

• Sometimes a red area is visible in the calf area.

• Pain may be reproduced when passively stretching the calf muscle (you relax the muscle while someone else moves your foot to stretch it).

 

In rare cases a DVT can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE) which can travel to the lungs. Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. This is a medical emergency and would need urgent attention via A&E or calling 999.

Symptoms of PE include:

• Rapid or irregular heartbeat.

• Light-headedness or dizziness.

• Excessive sweating.

• Fever.

• Leg pain or swelling, or both, usually in the calf caused by a deep vein thrombosis.

• Shortness of breath.

• Cough.

• Chest pain.

• Clammy or discoloured skin (cyanosis).

Risk Factors

• Pregnant ladies or the first six weeks postpartum.

• People who have poor circulation/ or circulatory/vascular conditions.

• Being over weight.

• Smokers.

• People over the age of 50.

• Post-surgical intervention/ or a recent fracture.

• Family history of DVT.

• Contraception pill or receiving hormone therapy.

• Being immobile for long periods of time/ travelling on a long haul flight.

• Catheter placed into a vein or a deep vein injury.

• Blood clotting disorders.

What should you do if you suspect you have a DVT?

If you suspect you might have a DVT you need to seek urgent medical advice.

You can call your GP but if they are not available you could call the NHS 111 service 24hours a day.

Lifestyle changes that may help prevent a DVT

• See your doctor for regular check-ups

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Stay active

• Maintain healthy blood pressure

• Don’t smoke

• Avoid sitting for long periods of time

• Stay hydrated

• Compressions socks

• Blood thinner medication if prescribed by a health care professional

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