DVT has the potential to be life-threatening, which means it needs immediate medical care. Knowing its possible causes, risk factors, and symptoms can help you check yourself for DVT at home and seek medical attention timely. If you are concerned about the possibility of developing DVT, visit Downtown Vein & Vascular Center for a comprehensive evaluation of your condition and treatment options. Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky determines the causes of your problem and tackles it accordingly before it leads to dangerous health complications.
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs due to the formation of a blood clot inside a deep vein, such as in the leg. DVT is one of the major causes of a pulmonary embolism that occurs when a blood clot breaks apart, travels through the bloodstream, and moves up to the lungs, causing a blockage. Diagnosing and treating DVT is essential to prevent fatal consequences.
A clot is formed when blood turns from a liquid into a solid state, particularly in the area where blood flow is slow or has been disturbed. It typically occurs after surgery or a long period of inactivity, such as flying or other reasons. A blood clot is very dangerous as it could readily turn into a medical emergency if it breaks off and gets lodged in the heart or travels to the lungs.
It is one situation you want to get checked out as soon as you can. The good news is that if caught early, deep vein thrombosis can be treated, but you must know what to look out for.
Are You Worried About Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when your blood no longer effectively circulates or begins to clot in a vein. This Ineffective blood circulation or clotting can be due to various factors, including genetic disorders, trauma or injury to a vein, certain surgeries, pregnancy, birth control medication, obesity, smoking, cancer, certain bowel diseases, genetic disorders, or age.
Blood clots are common in the lower extremities, notably the calf or thigh. While a blood clot may not seem like a big deal, what happens next can be deadly. The blood clots in the lower extremities have the potential to break away and travel to an artery in the lung, leading to pulmonary embolism, which can be very dangerous. Another long-term complication of DVT is a post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), an issue caused by damaged valves and veins. PTS can cause swelling in the leg, redness, ulcers, and sores.
Knowing how to check for DVT at home is crucial for ensuring you receive prompt treatment for this condition.
How To Check Yourself For DVT At Home
Self-evaluation is a good way to check yourself at home and look for signs and symptoms of blood clots in your legs. It is essential to know that DVT typically occurs in the legs, but can also occur in other areas of the body. Checking for symptoms with evaluation, known as Homan’s Test, involves knowing what to look for.
Here is what you need to do:
Step 1: Extend the knee in the leg you want to check.
Step 2: Once your knee is in the position, get someone to help you raise your leg slightly, up to 10 degrees.
Step 3: Have them squeeze your calf with one hand while flexing your foot with the other.
If you experience any type of deep calf pain or tenderness during this process, you may have DVT, and you should get medical attention as soon as possible.
Symptoms You Should Look Out For
Some signs and symptoms of DVT that you need to look out for include:
- Swelling in one or both legs
- Changes in the color of the affected leg – usually to a blue or purple shade
- Pain, tenderness, or redness in and around the affected area of the leg
- Tiredness or restlessness in the legs that do not seem to go away
- Veins appearing more prominent than usual
- Cramps and pain that becomes more severe when the foot is bent
You may also have symptoms that affect other parts of the body rather than just the affected leg, especially if the blood clot has broken off and traveled through the veins.
These signs may appear suddenly, or they may occur slowly over time. It is essential to keep a close eye on your lower limbs and notice any unusual symptoms, particularly if you are at high risk of DVT. If you suspect you are having signs of DVT, seek medical attention right away for immediate treatment. Timely diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism.
Who Is At High Risk of DVT?
You are at high risk of DVT if:
- You are over the age of 50
- Have a family history of either DVT, vein problems, or pulmonary embolism
- Are overweight or obese
- Suffer from any chronic medical illness such as lung, heart, or Crohn’s disease
- You have recently undergone a major surgery
- You were confined to bed recently for a long period
- You are a smoker
All these factors put you at higher risk of developing vein problems that lead to deep vein thrombosis. If you notice any signs and symptoms of DVT and fall into any of the categories mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible to get yourself checked.
The only way to diagnose this condition accurately is with the help of a blood test, which will then be followed up with an ultrasound or other imaging tests. It lowers your risk of life-threatening complications.
Is It Possible To Treat DVT At Home?
Unfortunately NO. The only way to treat DVT successfully and ensure you do not end up with critical consequences is with the help of proper medical care. DVT requires treatment to prevent blood clots from getting larger, breaking off, and making their way up to the lungs and heart. Vein specialists use advanced technology and imaging tests to diagnose the issue and the extent of the blockage.
In case of a confirmed diagnosis, the doctor first addresses the underlying issue of any potential blood clots and recommends medication to thin the blood. You may be required to take it for several months and make some changes to your lifestyle to fully resolve the clot and prevent the formation of more blood clots.
At times, a small filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (IVC). The IVC is a large vein that runs through the middle of the body. Placing a filter in this vein can prevent clots from entering the lungs. For people with severe blood clots, the doctor may prescribe thrombolytic, powerful medications used to dissolve blood clots.
Learn more about our vein treatment options below:
Home Tips for Managing DVT
Along with managing your symptoms, you must adjust your lifestyle to reduce your risk of developing DVT and prevent it from happening again.
They may include:
- Quitting smoke if you smoke
- Taking all the medications as prescribed by your doctor
- Wearing compression stockings, especially after surgery if you are on bed rest
- Maintaining a moderate weight
- Increasing fluid intake to avoid dehydration
- Getting up and moving every two hours, if possible
- Changing positions often when seated and avoiding crossing your legs
- Stopping birth control pills before surgery if directed by a doctor
- Exercising regularly
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition. Do not delay getting medical help if your symptoms do not improve or you experience symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, such as shortness of breath, sudden dizziness, chest pain, or a rapid pulse.
DVT is not something you should live with. For more information on DVT and other vein issues affecting your routine life and movement, visit Downtown Vein & Vascular Center and get expert advice regarding its prevention, management, and treatment. Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky is an experienced endovascular specialist and offers the most up-to-date and effective options available for DVT to help you live a better quality of life. He figures out the causes behind your symptoms and recommends the best vein procedures to ensure your circulation problems are dealt with safely and effectively.
Sergei Sobolevsky, MD, is a leading specialist in endovascular medicine with experience in vascular and interventional radiology. Dr. Sobolevsky has decades of experience in the field, with over 25,000 procedures performed, accumulating extensive experience in image-guided minimally invasive medicine, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions.
Dr. Sobolevsky earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1997 from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his specialty clinical training in vascular and interventional radiology at Harvard University. Later, he earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor and named to the Top Doctors New York Metro Area in 2020, 2021, and 2022, Dr. Sobolevsky is licensed in multiple states, has delivered presentations at numerous institutions in the US and abroad, and now acts as a clinical advisor for the biomedical industry. He also held multiple positions in the field during his career, including Chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY, Senior Vice President in Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Artann Laboratories in North Brunswick, NJ, and Medical Director at the American Endovascular and Amputation Prevention Center in Brooklyn.More About Dr. Sobolevsky