Deep Vein Thrombosis Complications Post Thrombotic Syndrome

Also known as deep-venous thrombosis and the economy class syndrome, deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition marked by the formation of a blood clot, or thrombus, in a deep vein. Although DVT commonly affects the leg veins or the deep veins of the pelvis, it occasionally develops in the veins of the arm. In these rarer circumstances, the condition is known as Paget-Schrötter disease.

If left untreated, these blood clots can break free and travel throughout the body, potentially lodging in the lungs. Known as pulmonary embolism, this severe complication of DVT can be fatal.

Along with pulmonary embolism, DVT patients can also suffer from post thrombotic syndrome. In fact, post thrombotic syndrome is the most common complication associated with DVT. Those who suffer from post thrombotic syndrome experience symptoms that include:

  • heavy sensation in the affected area
  • hyperpigmentation
  • inflammation in the affected area
  • open sores on the surface of the skin
  • pain.

Nearly, 66 percent of all DVT patients suffer from post thrombotic syndrome.

The Causes of Post Thrombotic Syndrome

Post thrombotic syndrome is caused by one or a combination of the following:

  • abnormal blood, including excess amounts of clotting proteins
  • abnormal blood flow, including backflow of the blood
  • damaged blood vessel walls
  • pooled blood in the veins
  • residual parts of clots that weren’t removed through the original DVT treatment.

Although treatment for DVT can remove most of the blood clots impeding a patient’s circulation, residual parts of clots and weak blood vessel walls cause blood to pool in the veins.

If a person already has abnormal blood flow or more coagulating factors in his blood, which DVT patients generally do, then he is highly likely to develop post thrombotic syndrome. Typically, doctors use the term “post thrombotic syndrome” to refer to the long-term effects of DVT.

Risk Factors for Post Thrombotic Syndrome

While post thrombosis syndrome commonly affects DVT patients, certain factors put some DVT patients at a higher risk for developing this condition. Risk factors for post thrombotic syndrome include:

  • acute DVT
  • DVT cases that affect the upper leg
  • gender (Women are more likely than men to develop post thrombotic syndrome.)
  • immobilization for long periods of time, such as prolonged bed rest
  • obesity
  • old age
  • pregnancy
  • recent surgery
  • smoking
  • taking oral contraceptive
  • the presence of kidney disorders
  • the presence of lupus anticoagulant in the blood
  • varicose veins.

Those who have received treatment for DVT within the last six to 12 months are at the highest risk of developing post thrombotic syndrome.

Preventing Post Thrombotic Syndrome

Post thrombotic syndrome prevention is similar to DVT prevention. One of the best ways to prevent both conditions is to wear graduated compression stockings. In fact, wearing these stockings regularly can reduce your chances of developing post thrombotic syndrome by as much as 50 percent.

Doctors may also prescribe you anticoagulatant medication, such as heparin and warfarin, especially if you are a high-risk case. Although aspirin is an over-the-counter medication that has anticoagulant properties, check with your doctor before starting an aspirin regimen.

Post Thrombotic Syndrome Treatment

reating post thrombotic syndrome is also similar to treating DVT. Treatment can include any combination of the following:

  • exercising the legs regularly
  • massaging the legs to encourage healthy blood flow (especially if patients have recently had leg surgery)
  • taking anticoagulant medication
  • wearing graduated compression stockings to promote better circulation.

Some people couple traditional post thrombotic treatments with natural healing techniques. Alternative treatments generally involve taking herbs to promote cardiovascular health and good circulation. These include:

  • cod-liver oil along with vitamin E to help prevent blood clots
  • Butcher’s broom to strength the walls of the veins
  • citric acid and lemon polyphenol to improve circulation
  • garlic to thin the blood
  • ginko to promote circulation
  • horse chestnut to encourage healthy circulation
  • Nattokinase (a Japanese herb isolated from boiled and fermented soybeans) to dissolve blood clots and prevent arteries from hardening.


Kahn, Susan R., M.D., MSc FRCPC; Ginsberg, M.D., FRCPC (2004). Relationship Between Deep Venous Thrombosis and the Postthrombotic Syndrome. Retrieved July 19, 2007, from the Internal Medicine Web site:

Meissner, Mark H., M.D., Strandness, E. Eugene, Jr., M.D. (n.d.). Acute Deep Venous Thrombosis and Its Complications Forum. Retrieved July 19, 2007, from the Venous Info Web site:

The Health E-Alert – At a glance: Deep Vein Thrombosis (n.d.). Deep Vein Thrombosis: Natural Ways To Help Protect Against DVT. Retrieved July 19, 2007, from the Healthier Life Web site:

Uro Today (n.d.) Compression Stockings Help Prevent Post-Thrombotic Syndrome. Retrieved on July 19, 2007, from the Uro Today Web site: