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Disease Information : DVT : FAQ's


Q. My mother has had a reoccurrence of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) after a period of four years. Both times the symptoms have been a little different and she was surprised by them. What symptoms should she have been watching for?

A. DVT happens because there is a formation of an obstructing blood clot in the deep veins. Usually it occurs in the leg but can also occur in veins that course through the pelvis. The greatest risk of having a DVT is the possibility of having a pulmonary embolism where a whole blood clot or a piece of the blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. A pulmonary embolism may be fatal. Individuals with DVT may sense pain or discomfort in the calf or thigh and notice swelling in the leg. However, many are unaware of the problem until they develop an embolism. Symptoms of an embolism include shortness of breath, sharp chest pain or blood-tinged coughing. Anyone that feels these symptoms should call a health care professional immediately or seek assistance from an emergency center of you closest hospital.

Q. Is Air Travel Safe for Those with DVT?

A. Travelers who have had a DVT in the past and are considering travel with prolonged periods of sitting should wear prescription- strength compression stockings and walk every 30 minutes. Additionally, simple calf exercises while sitting helps. If travel is for more than four hours, those individuals may receive a dose of a blood thinner called low-molecular weight heparin to help prevent clots. This is an injection with a needle under the skin.

Q. Does Exercise Help DVT?

A. Little is known as to how exercise effects a DVT after it has formed. Nevertheless, exercise will help prevent further clotting and may improve other pathways for the blood to travel from the legs back to the heart.

Q. Is there any procedure or medicine that will clear out the DVT scar tissue and restore my veins to their proper functioning?

A. Much work is being done in this area. There are several devices now that can be used to remove clot. If a clot is removed early (within three days), the veins may retain good function, with the valves remaining intact and able to prevent pooling of blood in the ankles.


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Deep Vein Thrombosis section was last modified: March 26, 2010 - 11:53 am