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What is DVT?

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot within a deep vein. A clot inside a blood vessel is called a thrombosis. DVT predominantly develops within the legs and may not be accompanied with any symptoms. The non-specific symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling, redness, warmness, and engorged superficial veins (‘spider veins’) in the leg. DVT may go away naturally, but serious complications can develop when a thrombosis dislodges and travels to the lungs to become a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. DVT and PE are the two manifestations of the disease venous thromboembolism. A late complication of DVT is the post-thrombotic syndrome, which can manifest itself as edema, pain or discomfort and skin problems.

In addition to anti-coagulation treatment, graduated compression socks or stockings, that apply a firm pressure at the ankles and graduate to a lower pressure towards the knees, are recommended for those at risk of developing, showing symptoms of, or diagnosed with DVT.

Factors related to DVT:
Besides inherited attributes, there are many other factors that exacerbate the development of DVT:

  • Older age
  • Major surgery and orthopaedic surgery, cancers
  • Pregnancy and the postpartum period
  • Hormonal replacement therapy
  • Central venous catheters
  • Some auto immune diseases
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • HIV
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immobilization: e.g. sitting for long periods, e.g. when travelling by air,    constrained by orthopaedic casts


How to reduce the risk of travel related DVT:

  • Regular exercise and movement of your legs, feet and toes while you are sitting in a static position.
  • Regular massage of leg (and other) muscles.
  • Wear graduated compression socks/stockings and comfortable clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.