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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Deep Venous Thrombosis
      Category : Health Centers > Cardiovascular (Circulatory System)

Deep Venous Thrombosis

Alternate Names : DVT, Economy Class Syndrome

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Deep venous thrombosis, also called DVT, refers to a blood clot that has formed in one of the large veins far below the skin.

What is going on in the body?

A deep venous thrombosis is most common in the legs, but it can occur in other parts of the body. A blood clot in a vein blocks the normal flow of blood back to the heart. It also causes the affected vein to become inflamed.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

A deep venous thrombosis forms when a blood clot in a vein blocks the normal flow of blood back to the heart. Circumstances that increase an individual's risk of developing DVT include:

  • immobility that lasts more than 3 days
  • increased thickness of the blood, which may be inherited or acquired
  • injury or trauma
  • major surgery in the past 4 weeks, especially in the pelvis or abdomen
  • obesity
  • pregnancy, particularly right before and after delivery
  • Diseases and conditions that increase a person's risk for DVT include:

  • blood-clotting disorders
  • cancer
  • congestive heart failure , a condition in which the weakened heart can't pump enough blood throughout the body
  • heart attack
  • a history of blood clots, such as a pulmonary embolus or another DVT
  • nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder
  • sepsis, a bodywide infection
  • stroke
  • systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own tissues
  • ulcerative colitis, a bowel disorder
  • Medicines that can increase the risk for DVT include:

  • hormone replacement therapy
  • illegal drugs taken intravenously
  • oral contraceptives
  • Injuries can also increase a person's risk for DVT. Common injuries linked to DVT include:

  • bone fractures in the legs
  • burns
  • multiple trauma, or significant injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • Recently, there have been conflicting research reports about the role of long airplane flights in deep venous thrombosis. Some studies showed a relationship between airline travel and an increase in the blood's tendency to form clots. The researchers attributed the increased risk of clot formation to the low pressure, low oxygen, dehydration, and lack of activity on long flights. Another study showed that individuals hospitalized with DVT were four times more likely to have gone on a long trip recently than those treated at the hospital for other conditions. Because of findings like this, deep venous thrombosis is often referred to as "economy class syndrome."

    However, other researchers have not found the same relationship. Some suggest that only people with a particular genetic abnormality are at risk for economy class syndrome. More research is needed in this area.


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    Deep Venous Thrombosis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Minot Cleveland, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/27/01

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