By Russell Becker, DO, Vascular Surgeon
If you’ve experienced swollen legs, tingling, burning or itching sensations in your legs, a feeling of heaviness, aching, cramping, or skin discoloration, you could have Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs). Every year, nearly one million people are affected by DVTs, and sadly, approximately 100,000 of these cases end in death. These are grim statistics since the treatment readily available to patients. Along with the common indicators mentioned above, nearly half of the individuals that are affected by DVT have no symptoms at all. Unfortunately, the majority of these people do not realize that they have a medical issue until it is life-threatening.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
DVT’s are blood clots that can form in the legs or arms. When a blood clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs or brain and causes an embolism, which is when the thrombus or blood clot is moving through the vessels or arteries. If it lodges in the lungs, it can cause death, and if it travels to the brain, it will cause a stroke, along with the probability of death. If you have any discomfort in your limbs, it’s imperative that you see a specialist.
What Causes DVT?
When a veins inner lining is damaged, by either trauma, biological, or chemical factors, blood clots can form deep inside the vein. A medical professional will be able to report whether or not your symptoms are superficial, or unsafe and in need restorative treatment.
Although it can happen to anyone, the most common factors that put you at risk for DVT is sitting for extended periods of time. If you are driving long distance, traveling by train, bus or plane, or perhaps you’re deskbound at work, these lengthy episodes of sitting can all lead to deep vein thrombosis. Other causes are vascular malformations, pelvic tumors, a family history of varicose veins, smoking, being overweight, pregnancy and an overall sedentary lifestyle.
• Prominent varicose vein
• Heavy aching legs
• Leg swelling
• History of a previous clot
• Family history of blood clotting
• No Symptoms
Because the veins and arteries balance each other out, when a person experiences chronic symptoms, it’s critical to see a physician. If the veins are damaged, it’s not unusual that the arteries are not pumping blood efficiently either. DVT’s and Chronic venous insufficiency can be fatal and must be treated to prevent further damage to your circulatory system and your overall health.
Celebrity and Pro Tennis player Serena Williams suffered a DVT, which led to a pulmonary embolism. Thankfully she had a successful emergency surgery that saved her life. Shortly after having heart surgery, television host, Regis Philbin, also suffered from a DVT. He developed pain in his calf, and after further investigation, the clot was discovered. Luckily, he too, was treated and had a successful outcome. However, NBC News journalist, David Bloom, wasn’t so fortunate. He was killed by a DVT while reporting on the war in Iraq.
If you or a loved one has any of the DVT/venous symptoms or risk factors discussed above, you must seek medical attention immediately! Making an appointment with a vascular surgeon, specializing in venous disease is your best line of defense against this common disorder.
Russell Becker, DO, Vascular Surgeon
Dr. Becker received his fellowship training in vascular and endovascular surgery at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery, he’s a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, and he retains active memberships with the Society for Vascular Surgery and the Florida Vascular Society.
Dr. Becker has experience and interest in all areas of vascular and endovascular surgery, including treatment of conditions like carotid artery disease, hemodialysis access creation and maintenance, and diseases of the veins.
Beyond performing surgery, Dr. Becker is a well published author of vascular surgery literature. He has previously served as an investigator in numerous new and developing clinical device trials and has been a part of the clinical faculty in vascular surgery at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan.
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