blood-clot-in-legThe blood vessels that feed the lower extremities are extremely important in daily life. These blood vessels must be functioning correctly in order to supply the nutrients that muscles need on a daily basis. These blood vessels are prone to blockages that can impair with blood flow. Blood clots in calf blood vessels can then result due to these blockages. Blood clots are extremely common in society and can affect any individual, regardless of age. These blood clots in calf blood vessels can cause severe discomfort and be extremely painful. The causes of blood clots in the calf muscles can include long periods of inactivity, atherosclerosis and obesity. These directly promote blood to pool in the lower extremities and greatly incases the risk of developing a blood clot in calf muscles. Blood clots in calf symptoms can include severe swelling, pain, reddish skin color, and the feeling of warmth in the calf region.

It is imperative to be aware for the signs of blood clots to avoid serious health complications. Physicians will usually elect to use a series of tests and procedures to confirm the presence of a blood clot in calf regions. This can include ultrasounds, venography, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If a blood clot is found, treatment usually begins immediately. Treatment of blood clots usually involves lifestyle changes, medications, and if needed, surgery. Dissolving blood clots is the goal of any treatment method. Lifestyle changes can include exercising, avoiding long periods of inactivity and quitting smoking. Medicine for blood clots include anticoagulation medications, antiplatelet medications and thrombolytic. These drugs act to thin the blood, and in the case of thrombolytic medications act in the process of dissolving blood clots. Surgery to remove blood clots is usually used only as a last resort. It is dependent on the size of the clot and the likelihood of the clot developing into a pulmonary embolism or cutting the supply to major artery in the lower extremity. The surgical procedure involves the insertion of a filter, usually into the inferior vena cava, to catch any blood clots that break loose from the calf and travel superiorly in the body. The most severe type of blood clots in calf vessels is deep vein thrombosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) results when one or more blood clots in calf muscles result and severely impact blood supply to the lower extremity. Deep vein thrombosis is especially problematic as these blood clots in calf vessels have a tendency to break loose and have the ability to travel to either the lungs or the brain. When the blood clot travels to the lungs, it is defined as a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism has the potential to be fatal, and immediate treatment of blood clots is needed. The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include excessive sweating, chest pain, difficulty breathing and a hyperactive heart rate. The risk factors for developing a deep vein thrombosis include: aging, obesity, genetic history of DVT, and smoking and long periods of inactivity. It is important to discuss with your physician on how to minimize the risk factors of developing a deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling, reddish and warmth. It is important to be aware of the signs of blood clots so treatment can begin immediately.

Blood Clot in Calf: Symptoms

It is important to monitor for the signs of blood clots in the calf to minimize health related complications associated with blockages. Blood clots in calf symptoms include severe swelling, extreme pain, reddish skin, warmth in the calf, and associated cramping. Blood clots in calf symptoms are directly linked to blockages in blood supply to the lower extremity and thus, the inability of the body to supply the calf and foot with the nutrients they need. It is important to monitor for the symptoms of blood clots in calf regions and to contact medical assistance immediately if they present themselves.

Risk Factors for Blood Clots

risk-factors-for-sickle-cell-anemia_12It is imperative to minimize the risk factors associated with blood clots in calf blood vessels. Lowering your risk of developing a blood clot is imperative in maintaining healthy blood flow in the extremities. Risk factors for blood clots in calf regions include chronic hypertension, excessive tobacco consumption, obesity, physical inactivity, prolonged periods of inactivity, aging, genetic disorders, trauma, pregnancy, and high blood cholesterol. Some of these risk factors are unavoidable, but most are preventable. In general, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight and continue exercising to not only prevent blood clots in calf regions, but also to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is best to discuss with your doctor on how to manage the risk factors of developing blood clots.

Diagnosing a Blood Clot

If the signs of blood clots are present, physicians will elect to perform additional tests and procedures to confirm the presence of a clot. These tests and procedures can include ultrasounds, D-dimer tests, venography, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are usually the first test used to diagnosing blood clots in calf regions. Ultrasounds are also a non-invasive procedure and are of no harm to the patient. Ultrasounds help provide information on how the blood is following through the vessels of the body. If blood flow is abnormal through a certain region, physicians can use this information to help confirm their original diagnosis of a blood clot. Ultrasounds for this region are usually termed the gold standard for diagnosing blood clots.

D-Dimer Test

D-Dimer tests are also important in determining the presence of a blood clot. The cons of a D-Dimer test are that they cannot provide the location or direct cause of the blood clot, and can only confirm the presence of a clot. A D-Dimer test measures a substance in the blood that is released when a blood clot begins to dissolve. D-Dimer tests involve the drawing of blood and usually present no adverse risks. They are usually used in conjunction with an ultrasound.

Venography

Venography is an important procedure for helping determining the presence of blood clots in calf regions. Physicians begin this procedure with the insertion of a dye into the vessels of the body. This dye can be shown with a subsequent X-Ray image. Physicians can use this X-ray to examine how blood is flowing through the body and if any blockages or clots are present.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

Computed tomography scans are especially important in patients suffering from deep vein thrombosis. They can help physicians determine if a pulmonary embolism is present due to DVT. CT scans are non-invasive and provide detailed images of the chest region.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is another non-invasive test that can help detect the presence of a blood clot. They are usually not used but can help provide detailed images of regions of the body to confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment of Blood Clots

If the signs of blood clots are present, treatment of blood clots should begin immediately. Depending on the severity of the blood clot in calf blood vessels, this can include lifestyle changes, medications and/or surgical removal of the clot. Usually, physicians do not perform surgery unless absolutely necessary as they are serious risks involved.

Lifestyle Changes

Physicians usually recommend lifestyle changes immediately following the suspicion of a blood clot in calf vessels or if the risk factors for developing a clot are high. Doctors can also recommend the use of daily compression socks to stimulate blood flow in the calf region. Some important lifestyle changes can include:

Exercise

Exercising daily can exponentially decrease the risk of developing not only a blood clot in calf regions, but also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Exercising also promotes blood flow throughout the body and strengthens heart muscles.

Lowering Blood Cholesterol

9e3862c4ddebb85d3b6e39c0368c00acHigh blood cholesterol levels can help prevent atherosclerosis and thus, promote healthy blood flow through vessels. High blood cholesterol contributes to plaque build up in vessels, and thus, management of diet is crucial in the avoidance of high cholesterol. Avoiding foods high in trans and saturated fats along with sugar is extremely beneficial in the avoidance of blood clots.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Managing chronic hypertension can lower the risk of developing blood clots in calf regions. Hypertension can promote injury and increased workload on vessels of the body and thus, can promote the occlusion of vessels in the body.

Losing Weight

Obesity is one of the most prevalent problems in today’s society. Being overweight increases strain on the heart and can promote the pooling of blood in the lower regions of the body. Maintaining a healthy weight is not only vital in avoiding blood clots in the calf, but also overall health.

Quitting Smoking

Smoking is especially problematic in the development of blood clots. This is due to the fact smoking is linked to the hardening of blood vessels of the body which contributes to an increased risk of blockages.

Medications

If lifestyle changes alone are not enough in the treatment of blood clots in calf regions, medicine for blood clots may be needed. Common medicines for blood clots include anticoagulants, antiplatelet and thrombolytic. Anticoagulants and antiplatelet respectively help decrease the likelihood of additional blood clots and limit the growth of an already present blood clot. Thrombolytic medications actively seek of the blood clot present and work to dissolve it. It is important to discuss with your doctor what medicine for blood clots is needed.

Surgery

If the blood clot present is serious, doctors may insert a filter into the inferior vena cava. This filter acts to catch potential blood clots that dislodge from the leg and work to travel to the lungs and brain. It is important to discuss with your doctor what the best treatment method is for you.