venous-thromboembolism-of-pregnancy-2-638Venous thromboembolism is a term used to describe the formation of a blood clot in a vein of the body. Venous thromboembolism pathophysiology is associated with blockages of important veins in the body. When these blood vessels become occluded, serious life threatening situations can result. The two types of venous thromboembolisms are deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. The difference between the two is where the blood clot originates. In deep vein thrombosis, the blood clot originates in a certain area, usually the leg, and blocks blood flow in this area. In pulmonary embolisms, the blood clot arises somewhere else in the body, again usually the leg, and dislodges to travel to the lung. The risk of venous thromboembolism development includes long periods of inactivity such as plane travel or hospital stays, general surgery, trauma, pregnancy, aging and genetic related diseases.

It is important to consult with your doctor on the risk of venous thromboembolism development. Symptoms of venous thromboembolisms differ depending on whether deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism is present. The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include excessive swelling, redness, skin warmth, and severe pain, especially when walking. As for pulmonary embolism symptoms, these can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart complications and fainting. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms as immediate treatment is needed and may be life saving. If the symptoms of venous thromboembolism are present, physicians usually elect to perform several diagnostic tests and procedures to confirm their diagnosis. These can include blood tests, ultrasounds, pulmonary angiography, perfusion scanning, and venography. If a blood clot is shown, treatment of venous thromboembolisms should be beginning immediately. Treatment of venous thromboembolisms include lifestyle changes, medications and if needed, surgery. Common medications involved in the treatment process are anticoagulants, antiplatelet and thrombolytics. These medications are imperative as they help to determine further clotting and work to actively dissolve the present clot. If the blood clot is deemed life threatening to the patient, doctors may elect to surgically remove the clot to alleviate symptoms. It is recommended to discuss with your physician what the best treatment method is for venous thromboembolisms. In general, it is important to prevent venous thromboembolisms from developing. Avoiding long periods of inactivity, quitting smoking and exercising regularly, can do this.

Venous Thromboembolism Pathophysiology

Venous thromboembolism pathophysiology is related to the bloods ability to naturally coagulate. Platelets in the blood, which normally help heal open wounds and prevent disease, are the main culprit behind venous thromboembolism development. These platelets, along with plaque build up, contribute to blood clots in the blood vessels in the body. These blockages can stay in the blood vessel, which they developed in, or breaking off and in the case of pulmonary embolisms, travel to the lung. These blockages can directly prevent blood flow to important arteries and thus, the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms can be especially problematic.

Risk of Venous Thromboembolism

It is important to minimize the risk of venous thromboembolism development. The symptoms of venous thromboembolisms can be life threatening and are often associated with a poor prognosis. Common risk factors include long periods of inactivity, surgery, pregnancy, cancer, estrogen-based medications, a family history of clotting, obesity, smoking, aging and trauma. The most common cause of venous thromboembolisms is associated with long periods of inactivity such as plane rides or hospital stays. It is best to consult with your doctor if you are travelling or will be staying in the hospital for a long period of time in the future. He or she may recommend taking an antiplatelet such as acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, if your chances of developing a blood clot are high.

Symptoms of Venous Thromboembolism

venous-clots2The symptoms of venous thromboembolisms can be especially detrimental and life altering. If left untreated, the development of a venous thromboembolism may be fatal. Symptoms of venous thromboembolisms are dependent on whether a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is present.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms

The symptoms of venous thromboembolisms include excessive swelling in the region, warmth, redness, itching and severe pain. Since deep vein thrombosis most often occurs in the lower extremities, it is best to be aware of the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms in the leg.

Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms

The symptoms of venous thromboembolisms include breathing difficulties, severe chest pain, abnormal heart complications, excessive sweating, and fainting. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms in the lung as they are especially problematic and often fatal.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of venous thromboembolisms, seek medical assistance immediately.

Venous Thromboembolism Diagnosis

If the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms are present, physicians usually elect to perform several diagnostic procedures to confirm their suspicions. These tests and procedures can include blood tests, ultrasounds, pulmonary angiography, venography, and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Blood Tests

The most common blood tests for the detection of venous thromboembolisms are D-Dimer tests. If the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms are present, doctors will draw blood and examine for the presence of d-dimers. D-dimers are a substance often released when a blood clot is present in the body. This can help physicians determine if a blood clot is present. This test can only confirm the presence of a blood clot and not the location of the clot in the body, thus, other diagnostic tests are often used in conjunction with blood tests.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are non-invasive procedures that can help doctors pinpoint the location of a blood clot in the body. It is often the best diagnostic procedure for the detection of a deep vein thrombosis. Ultrasounds are vital as they can provide detailed views of the blood flow through vessels of the body, especially in the leg. An abnormal blood flow often is consistent with a blood clot.

Pulmonary Angiography

Pulmonary angiographs are an invasive procedure that can help detect blood clots in the lungs. In a pulmonary angiograph, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the lower extremity. Through this catheter, a radioactive dye is inserted into the blood vessels with can then show how blood is flowing through the body via X-Ray. This test is not often done due to its invasive nature, but can be used to detect the presence of pulmonary embolisms.

Venography

Venography is also another invasive procedure and also involves the use of a catheter. It is very similar to a pulmonary angiograph, except is not limited to the chest region. It involves the use of a radioactive dye, which then can elicit powerful images of how blood is flowing through the body.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

CT scans are non-invasive procedure that can help provide detailed images of the chest region. They are especially useful if symptoms of venous thromboembolisms are present in the lungs. They can help visualize and confirm the presence of a pulmonary embolism.

These diagnostic procedures are important to confirm the need for treatment of venous thromboembolisms.

Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism

dvt_diagram_1The treatment of venous thromboembolisms is dependent on the size and severity of the blood clot present. Physicians will always recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent venous thromboembolisms from developing again in the future. Also, medications and surgery are also options in the treatment procedure.
 
 

 
 

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are imperative to preventing venous thromboembolism development. Common lifestyle changes recommended are dietary changes, especially avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fat. This is to avoid plaque build up in arteries that can contribute to blockages in vessels. Also, it is important to quit smoking, exercise regularly and avoid periods of long physical inactivity. Also, physicians will sometimes elect the use of compression socks to encourage blood flow in the lower extremities to avoid deep vein thrombosis and subsequent pulmonary embolism development. If the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms persist, medications and/or surgery may be needed.

Medications

Medications are usually always prescribed in the treatment of venous thromboembolisms. This is to prevent venous thromboembolisms from developing again in the future, and to limit the size of the present blood clot in the vessel. Common medications used are anticoagulants, antiplatelets and thrombolytics. In the case of anticoagulants and antiplatelet, these medications act to prevent venous thromboembolisms from developing. Anticoagulants are the most prescribed medication in the treatment of blood clots. Common anticoagulant medications are heparin and warfarin. These medications are not without side effects so it is imperative to discuss these medications with your doctor. The most important class of medication in the treatment of the symptoms of venous thromboembolisms is thrombolytics. These medications actively seek out the clot present in the body and work to dissolve it. The most common form of thrombolytic medication is tissue plasminogen activator. This medication is time sensitive, as it must be administered as soon as possible after symptoms of venous thromboembolism become present. Thrombolytic medications are deemed the gold standard of venous thromboembolisms treatment.

Surgery

If the blood clot present is life threatening, emergency surgery may be required. This is a highly invasive procedure and also not without risks. Embolectomy is the most common procedure used to remove a blood clot. It involves surgically removing the blood clot by opening up the vessel that contains the blockage.

Your physician is the best person to determine what treatment method is best for venous thromboembolisms.