Here’s a word you don’t hear every day: Thromboembolism. What is it?
Simply, a thromboembolism is a blood clot formation that starts in the vein. It is also called venous thromboembolism (VTE). The blood clot dislodges from another site in the circulatory system and blood stream carries it to plug another vessel. The clot may plug a vessel in the leg, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, lungs or brain.
Your life depends on your body’s ability to clot. Without clotting, a simple paper cut can turn into a medical emergency. But when a blood clot happens in your veins, it can cut off your blood flow. VTEs are scary serious, but the good news? A venous thromboembolism is treatable and there is help to prevent or reduce the odds of developing one.
A venous thromboembolism comprises two related conditions, which are set apart by where they are located in your body. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) develops deep in your veins, usually in the legs, and can cut off blood flow. A pulmonary embolism (PE) happens when the diseased clot breaks loose and travels from the leg up to your lungs. Both DVT and PE are serious conditions, with a pulmonary embolism being life-threatening and requiring immediate medical attention.
What are the Warning Signs? Causes?
Deep vein thrombosis mainly affects the large deep veins in the lower leg (calf) and thigh, almost always on one side of the body. The clot can block the flow of blood and cause:
- Leg pain, including heaviness and tenderness
- Swelling (edema)
- Warm skin near the blocked vein
- Redness or red streaks in the affected area
Pulmonary embolism can be fatal and occurs when DVT breaks free and blocks blood supply to the lungs, causing:
- Shortness of breath/rapid shallow breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Chest pain under the rib cage
- Dizziness or even unconsciousness
The causes or risk factors of venous thromboembolism are numerous and include age over 40, family history of blot clots, obesity, smoking, and immobility including long airplane flights where your legs are stuck in the same position. Other factors contributing to VTE: Serious health issues such as inactivity after a major surgery or trauma, heart disease, hormone therapy and pregnancy, cancer (with chemotherapy treatment) or other immune problems.
What are the Treatment Options?
LAM Vascular & Associates specializes in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis before it becomes a pulmonary embolism. You can talk to Dr. Lam about treatments like these:
- Blood thinners. While these prescribed drugs (e.g. Eliquis, Xarelto) don’t break up a blood clot, they can stop it from becoming bigger so your body has time to break it down on its own.
- Anticoagulants, including clot-busting injections that can break up the blood clot.
- Thrombolytic therapy, including drugs such as a tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) which is a clot dissolving enzyme that can be given through a vein.
- Surgery. This can involve your LAM Vascular & Associates doctor placing a special filter into the body’s largest vein to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs.
Venous thromboembolism is a uniquely serious condition and the immediate goal of LAM Vascular & Associates is to stop the blood clot in its tracks (in the legs) from spreading (to the lungs). Deep vein thrombosis does not discriminate and affects about two of every 1,000 people, including celebrities such as tennis phenom Serena Williams and media mogul Regis Philbin.
At Lam Vascular & Associates, we are here to alleviate pain and save your legs. We specialize in minimally-invasive, same-day vascular surgery. For your comfort and convenience, we have locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas. Schedule an initial appointment and/or DVT screening today to get a leg up on a long, healthy and happy life.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.