Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Over 600,000 new cases of deep venous thrombosis are diagnosed each year, with a mortality rate of 1%. Blood clots can form in the deep veins of the arms, legs, and pelvis. Risk factors for DVT are smoking, medications (birth control pills), immobility, long airplane or car trips, hypercoagulable state (e.g. cancer), and traumatic venous injury. Symptoms of DVT include swelling, redness, and painful limb. The main risk of DVT is if a piece of clot breaks off and goes from the leg up to the lungs – this is known as pulmonary embolism (PE). Symptoms of PE include shortness of breath, chest pain, increased pulse rate, and bloody sputum. PE can be fatal in some cases.
Post thrombotic syndrome is an under recognized but more common side effect of DVT. Blood clots can lead to vein and venous valve damage in as short as 8 weeks and can lead to abnormal blood pooling in the legs. Up to 69-70% of patients may suffer from this long- term problem. Standard medical treatment of DVT is anticoagulation, which unfortunately does not actively dissolve clots but rather prevents additional clots from forming and allows the body to slowly dissolve the existing clot. Symptoms of abnormal pooling are similar to varicose veins and include chronic leg fatigue, swelling, and in extreme cases venous ulceration. These are the symptoms of post thrombotic syndrome.