Deep vein thrombosis formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within a major blood vessel carrying blood back to the heart.
DVTs often occur in the deep veins of the legs. Symptoms of the clot itself may not be apparent, although signs and symptoms of DVT from NHS website may include:
- Swelling and tenderness in one of your legs (usually in the calf)
- A heavy ache in the affected area
- Warm skin in the affected area
- Red skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee
Any one of these symptoms alone, particularly if it is acute may be due to another cause, muscle injury, post-exercise soreness, insect bite, allergic reaction. Also, you’d expect a DVT to be present in only one leg in the same position so aching in both calves is more likely to have another cause. However, DVT is a serious condition and can lead to pulmonary embolism wherein a fragment of the blood clot breaks off into the bloodstream and blocks one of the blood vessels in the lungs, signs of which are chest pain and breathlessness. About 1 in 10 people with an untreated DVT suffer a pulmonary embolism.
DVT is more common in the over-40s although there are numerous risk factors that can also affect younger people: family history, long-term inactivity (hospitalisation, long-haul flight, illness etc), blood vessel injury, lifelong smoking, lack of exercise, cancer treatment, heart and lung disease, thrombophilia and Hughes syndrome, obesity, pregnancy. There are several diagnostics available to your doctor for DVT and once confirmed anticoagulant drugs might be prescribed of which there are several newer alternatives to the well-known warfarin. Your doctor may also prescribe compression stockings to reduce symptoms.
There is no evidence to suggest that taking aspirin will reduce your risk of DVT. However, the NHS has some tips on how you can genuinely reduce your risk of developing DVT.