DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
You may have been wondering what that nagging ache in your leg could be; it may have been a bit swollen and feeling heavier than usual. These are all signs of a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. This is when there is a blockage of the veins, often deep inside the leg, which are responsible for returning the majority of blood to the heart to be re-oxygenated and re-circulated around the body. DVTs affect a large number of people. As many as one in twenty of the population are affected at some stage in their life. Most people equate DVTs with flying in economy class on the aeroplane, but there are many other risk factors.
A DVT might seem like a minor problem but if left untreated more serious problems can occur. Blood may be diverted through superficial veins on the leg to overcome the blockage, much like a diversion around road works! This can lead to severe problems with varicose veins over the following years. It is also possible for a piece of the thrombosis (a mass of blood cells and platelets forming a clot) to break off. This can then travel around the body and lodge in the lungs, leading to a serious lack of oxygen. This is a life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolus, or a PE.
Treatment of a DVT is with blood thinners often initially by injection and later as a tablet. Close medical supervision is required to detect complications or side effects of the medication.
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