deep-vein-thrombosis-s1-photo-of-blood-clot-in-legMany large arteries and veins are responsible for blood flow in the leg. Some of these include the medial and lateral circumflex arteries, femoral artery and vein, and iliac vein. These bloods vessel are imperative for nourishing and providing oxygenated blood to lower extremities. Like any other blood vessel in the body, these arteries and veins are prone to blockages. When blood clots in your legs result, they are can especially problematic. The most serious condition that can arise is deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood clot occurs in one of the deeper veins in the leg and has the ability to dislodge and travel to the lungs or brain. When this results, it is termed a pulmonary embolism. Causes of leg blood clots include prolonged periods of inactivity, obesity, smoking, chronic hypertension and atherosclerosis. Symptoms of blood clots in your legs include excessive swelling, reddish skin, pain and warmth in the area.

It is important to monitor for the signs of blood clots in your legs and contact medical assistance immediately if they present themselves. It is important to minimize the causes of leg blood clots. Risk factors include lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, poor diet, hypertension and high blood cholesterol. Your doctor is the best person to discuss minimizing risks factors for blood clots in your legs with. If symptoms are present, testing for blood clots in your legs involve the use of ultrasounds, D-dimer tests and venography. Other procedures include computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These diagnostic methods are imperative in improving the prognosis of blood clot recovery. Treatment of blood clots in leg regions include lifestyle changes, medications and, if serious, surgery. Lifestyle changes are usually first method of treatment of blood clots in leg regions. Medications for blood clots in the leg include anticoagulants, antiplatelet and thrombolytic. These drugs help to deter further clotting in the leg region and also act to dissolve the clot that is currently present in the leg. It is imperative that treatment begins quickly to limit the size of the clot present, and also prevent any further clotting in the body. Surgery may also be needed if clotting is deemed severe or life threatening. Surgery includes the insertion of a filter in the inferior vena cava to catch potential blood clots that have dislodged from the leg and are destined for the lung or brain. It is important to discuss with your physician treatment methods for a blood clot.

Causes of Leg Blood Clots

There are numerous causes of leg blood clots. Blood clots in your legs can result from being overweight, pregnant, smoking, chronic hypertension, high blood cholesterol, heart inefficiencies, and atherosclerosis, use of medications such as birth control pills and prolonged periods of inactivity. These causes of leg blood clots are directly related to the increase likelihood of blood being able to pool through the body and especially the legs. Also, aging and a genetic history can be causes of leg blood clots. It is important to be aware of the causes of leg blood clots so treatment can begin immediately following discovery.

Symptoms of Blood Clots

blood-clots-s12-deep-vein-thrombosis-dvtLeg pain and blood clots are commonly present together. It is important to be aware of the
symptoms of blood clots in your legs to best increase the chances of avoiding other health complications. Symptoms of blood clots in your legs include increased swelling, redness, severe pain, and warmth in the region. Leg pain and blood clots are the most correlated symptom, and thus, if leg pain exists, medical assistance should be sought immediately. It is important to be aware of the signs of blood clots in your legs and to discuss them with your physician. Also, deep vein thrombosis can promote the development of a pulmonary embolism and stroke. Both pulmonary embolisms and strokes can be fatal and thus, the treatment of blood clots in the leg is critical.

Risk Factors of Blood Clots

There are numerous risk factors that can contribute to the developing of blood clots in your legs. It is best to minimize these risk factors to avoid the risk of potential life threatening situations such as deep vein thrombosis. Common risk factors of blood clots in your legs include aging, a family history of developing blood clots, trauma, being pregnant, obesity, tobacco consumption, heart failure or insufficiency, and long periods of inactivity. In the cases of trauma, pregnancy, obesity and long periods of inactivity, these factors directly increase the prevalence of blood pooling and thus, are causes of leg blood clots. Tobacco consumption has been shown to cause trauma and injury to blood vessels. It also promotes hardening of arteries, which increases the likelihood of blood clots in your legs. It is best to discuss with your physician on how to minimize risk factors of developing blood clots in your legs.

Diagnosing Blood Clots

Testing for blood clots in the legs involves the use of a series of procedures to confirm a diagnosis. If symptoms of blood clots in your legs are present, physicians will usually elect to confirm a diagnosis with the use of ultrasounds, d-dimer tests, venography, computed tomography scans (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). If confirmed, treatment of blood clots in the leg usually begins immediately.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are a non-invasive procedure to help determine the size, location and presence of a blood clot. For this reason, they are often deemed the gold standard of blood clot diagnosis. Ultrasounds help to show the efficiency of blood flow in the leg and if an abnormal flow is present, the confirmation of a blood clot can be made. Ultrasounds pose no risks to patients and are often the first test used in blood clot diagnosis.

D-Dimer Tests

D-Dimer tests are a form of blood test and thus, require blood to be drawn from the patient. D-Dimer tests can help physicians determine only the presence of a blood clot, and not the location or size of clot. This is why they are commonly used along side ultrasounds. D-Dimers can show the presence of a substance in the blood that accurately tells physicians if a blood clot is present.

Venography

artery_and_vein-max-1000x800Venography involves the use of a dye and X-Ray to help visualize the dye once inside the vessels of the body. To begin, physicians will insert the dye into the blood vessels of the body. Following this, an X-ray image(s) will be taken to examine the flow of blood throughout the body. Venography thus helps physicians examine blood flow and help to determine any abnormalities present.

Computed Tomography Scans (CT)

Computed tomography scans are a non-invasive procedure and usually done in patients with confirmed deep vein thrombosis. This is because CT scans are especially useful in examining for pulmonary embolisms and stroke development. They can provide detailed images of various regions of the body and do not pose risks to the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging is also a non-invasive procedure that can provide detailed images of the body. MRI’s can help physicians examine for blood vessel abnormalities and thus, determine if blood clots are present. They are often requested in conjunction with other tests or procedures.

Treatment for Blood Clots

Treatments of blood clots in the leg are usually dependent on the severity and size of the clot present. Due to the correlation of leg pain and blood clots, pain in the lower extremity is usually a telling sign that treatment is needed. The first line of treatment physicians elect to use is lifestyle changes to decrease the chances of further clotting. Also, medications for blood clots in the leg can be used. This usually involves the use of blood thinners and medications to dissolve the clot. Surgery is usually used as a last resort and is most common in patients with deep vein thrombosis.

Lifestyle Changes

Physicians will usually start with lifestyle changes to help decrease leg pain and blood clot size. Commonly recommended changes are to maintain a healthy body weight, quit smoking, avoid alcohol, and exercise regularly. Also recommended are changes to your diet. This includes avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats and also sugar. If these are not effective, medications for blood clots in the leg are used. Commonly, doctors will also recommend the use of compression socks on a daily basis to stimulate blood flow in the leg.

Medications

Medications for blood clots in the leg commonly involve the use of anticoagulants, antiplatelet and thrombolytic. These drugs help to thin the blood and prevent the further development of addition clots. Also, they help to seek out the clot and dissolve it. Depending on the risk factors present, physicians may also recommend the use of medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as these are common cause of blood clots in your legs.

Surgery

Surgery is used as a last resort in the treatment of blood clots in the legs. This is due the additional risks surgery can cause. Thus, surgery is usually only used on patients with deep vein thrombosis. This is to avoid the development of pulmonary embolisms and stroke. Surgeons can insert a filter into the inferior vena cava in hopes to catch any blood clots that dislodge from the leg and are bound for the lung or brain. It is best to discuss with your physician the best method of treatment for blood clots in your legs.