Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is characterized by the formation of clots, or thrombus, in one or more of deep veins in the body. Clots may develop in different parts of the body, like arms or chest, but are more commonly seen in the legs. DVT is a serious condition as the blood clot may move to other parts of the body along with the flow of blood. The loose clot may then lodge in organs, like lungs, impeding blood flow to the organ. These clots may lead to organ damage and sometimes cause death.
One of the most important cause of DVT is slow and poor blood flow in the body. As the blood flow slows down, the risk of clot formation in the vessels increases, leading to DVT. Injuries, surgery, conditions, treatment, and certain lifestyle factors may all enhance the risk of developing clots.
Conditions and treatments that may increase the risk of DVT include:
- Conditions that require the person to take bed rest for more than three days slows down circulation and increase the risk of DVT
- Injuries like broken hip or a fracture in the leg may impede blood flow to these regions
- Cancer affect circulation to certain organs
- Certain inherited condition increases the chance of developing clots
- Hormonal therapy, including postmenopausal treatment.
- History of cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and congestive heart failure increase the risk of DVT by affecting the blood flow
- Inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis
- Varicose veins
- Pregnancy or delivery by C-section
Surgeries may also lead to DVT. This includes major surgeries in the hip, knee, calf and chest, or a hip replacement procedures. Surgeries may enhance clot formation by moving tissue debris and fat into the blood vessel during the procedure. Walls of the blood vessels may also be damaged during surgery increasing chances of DVT. Moreover, people who undergo major surgeries are expected to have bed rest for a prolonged period of time, which increase the risk of DVT.
Some lifestyle factors may also lead to increased chances of clot formation in the veins and this is particularly true in elderly people. Obesity, smoking, being inactive or sitting for a long time, and long trips in car or flight, may all enhance DVT risk. Obesity is one of the causes for increased pressure in blood vessel, particularly of legs. Smoking is a known factor that affects blood flow and clotting, and thereby increases the chance of developing DVT.
In some rare cases, clot formation may happen in the upper part of the body. Insertion of catheter in the arm during a treatment is a major risk factor in developing clots in the upper body. Using pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, during the treatment of certain heart conditions, irritates the wall of the blood vessel and affect blood flow.