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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a blood vessel. Blood clots usually occur in the leg vessels, but can also occur elsewhere in the body, for example in the arms. The most common cause of a blood clot is immobility. A complication can occur when a part of the blood clot breaks down and travels to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). This is usually prevented if you are given an anticoagulant treatment. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep leg vein. Veins are blood vessels that bring blood to the heart. Deep veins in the legs are the larger veins that pass through the muscles of the calf and thighs. It is therefore not the veins that are visible just under the skin, or the varicose veins. When you have a DVT, the blood flow in the vein is completely or partially blocked by the blood clot.
Normally the blood flows quickly through the veins, and in principle does not solidify. The circulation in the veins of the legs is stimulated by moving them, because the contraction of the muscles 'squeezes' the veins. Sometimes a DVT arises without demonstrable reasons. However, the following situations may increase the risk of a DVT:
Immobility causes a slow blood flow in the veins. Slowly flowing blood will coagulate rather than normal flowing blood.
A surgical procedure where you sleep more than 1 - 1.5 hours is the most common cause of a DVT. The legs are calmed down when you are under anesthesia, because the muscles in your body are temporarily paralyzed. The blood can then flow very slowly through the veins, causing a clot to occur more quickly.
Long trips by plane, train or bus / car may involve a slightly increased risk. This is because you usually sit still and therefore do not move much.
Pregnancy increases the risk. About 1 in 1,000 pregnant women have a DVT while they are pregnant, or within six months after they have given birth.
Obesity also increases the risk.
A DVT usually occurs in a deep vein in the calf. The most common symptoms of DVT are:
Pain and tenderness of the calf.
A swollen calf.
Color and temperature changes of the calf. Blood that normally flows through the blocked vein is forwarded to the outer veins. The calf can then become warm and red.
Most people who develop a DVT are advised to wear support stockings, or blood clot socks. This treatment has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of recurrent DVT and may also reduce the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. You must wear the blood clot socks every day for at least two years. If a post-thrombotic syndrome develops, it may be advisable to wear the stockings for more than two years.
Note: after a DVT you first have to consult with your doctor which support stocking is best for you.
If you are advised to wear DVT compression stockings, you should wear them immediately after getting up until you go to bed. The pressure of the stocking helps to prevent moisture from seeping into the calf tissues from the outer veins that carry the extra diverted blood after a DVT. The stocking reduces or prevents the calf from swelling. This reduces a lot of inconveniences and reduces the risk of skin ulcers.
The main cause of DVT is immobility - especially during or after surgery.
The most serious complication of DVT is pulmonary embolism (PE), where part of the blood clot breaks down and travels to the lungs. This can result in death.
Persistent calf symptoms can occur after a DVT.
By treatment, the risk of the two above-mentioned complications is greatly reduced.
Treatment can consist of anticoagulation, keeping the leg up, moving a lot and wearing support stockings or blood clot socks.
Prevention is important if you have an increased risk of DVT - for example during long-term operations or when traveling long distances. Wearing DVT compression socks actually help in preventing it, but consult with your doctor first!
Consult your doctor first, before trying blood clot socks!
You can actually fight or prevent the thrombosis by wearing compression socks, or blood clot socks as they are called as well. Blood clot socks make sure the blood circulation improves, leading to an increased blood flow that helps again thrombosis. The socks reduces or prevents the calf from swelling. This reduces a lot of inconveniences and reduces the risk of skin ulcers.