Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes Risk Low Blood Flow

One of the leading causes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is low blood flow, which can cause blood to pool in the deep veins. This pooling increases the chances of forming a blood clot, especially in the lower half of the body. In most cases of DVT, blood clots form in the thigh and calf.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis is a condition characterized by a blood clot that forms in a vein deep within the body. The three types of veins in the human body include:

  • deep veins found in muscles
  • perforating veins that connect the deep veins to the superficial veins
  • superficial veins that lie under the skin.

In DVT, blood clots adhere to the walls of the vein, limiting blood flow and allowing additional pooling. Once a clot has formed, symptoms may include:

  • acute pain
  • a sensation of warmth in the affected area
  • discolored skin
  • swelling.

Note, however, that some people with blood clots experience no symptoms.

The greatest danger of deep vein thrombosis occurs when the clot dislodges from the vein and travels into the lungs. This condition, known as a pulmonary embolism, can be fatal if not treated quickly.

What Causes Low Blood Flow?

Low blood flow tends to arise due to situational causes. Here are some situations that contribute to low blood flow and potentially DVT:

  • Acute injury, especially to the thighs and calves, can affect circulation and cause blood clots.
  • Childbirth places a great deal of pressure on the deep veins, which can weaken them and inhibit their ability to pump blood through the body in an efficient manner.
  • Injured muscles can cause the deep veins to become constricted, increasing the incidence of clotting.
  • Major surgery, especially in the hips, legs and chest area, is another cause of low blood flow.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth increase the potential for low blood flow and DVT because, during pregnancy, a woman’s body will naturally produce more coagulants to help protect against excessive blood loss during childbirth.
  • Prolonged travel is a common cause of DVT, due to the fact that passengers remain seated for long periods of time and are often not able to walk or stretch their legs.

Other factors that can affect blood flow are:

  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • unhealthy diet.

Improving Blood Flow

Improving blood flow through the body is essential to avoiding deep vein thrombosis. Simple activities, such as walking or stretching, during prolonged travel allow the muscles to squeeze the deep veins and improve circulation.

If you are traveling in a car, make sure to pull over and walk at least once every few hours. If you are on an airplane, train or bus, try to walk up and down the aisles as often as possible. You can also do leg stretches in your seat.

Taking an aspirin helps thin the blood and increase flow through the heart. However, you should talk to your doctor before beginning aspirin therapy.

Finally, anticoagulants may be prescribed for those who are at high risk of developing DVT.

Resources

Bren, Linda (2004). Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis: Keep the Blood Flowing. Retrieved on June 21, 2007 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/604_vein.html.

National Institutes of Health (n.d.) Deep Vein Thrombosis. Retrieved on June 21, 2007 from the Patton Law Practice Web site: http://patton.lexipal.com/monograph/148.

VascularWeb (2006). Deep Vein Thrombosis. Retrieved on June 21, 2007 from the VascularWeb Web site: http://www.vascularweb.org/_CONTRIBUTION_PAGES/Patient_Information/NorthPoint/Deep_Vein_Thrombosis.html.