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How to avoid a DVT during COVID-19

by – November 26, 2020

How to avoid a DVT during COVID-19

It’s pivotal to know the symptoms and factors of how to avoid a DVT as we are faced with Lockdown 2 and an increase in cases of COVID-19. Professor Mark Whiteley provides some context behind this common but often forgotten condition.

What is DVT?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when an abnormal blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg or pelvis, however it can occur in other veins in the body too. Whilst generally common to some, many people have little or no understanding of its causes and effects.

What are the Symptoms of a DVT?

The possible symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis can include:

  • Tender leg for no obvious reason – can be above knee, below knee or both
  • Swelling of ankle, ankle and calf, calf and thigh or even the whole leg
  • A heavy ache in the leg – especially on standing or walking
  • Warm skin in area of swelling
  • Sometimes the skin can be a bit redder, but this is more common in phlebitis (inflammation of the vein wall)
  • DVT usually affects one leg, however it can affect both.

Varicose veins and DVT

Recently Prof Mark Whiteley was featured in an article based on DVT and Varicose veins in the Business Traveller Magazine. In the article it mentions that having varicose veins will impact your risk of a DVT as the vein wall is stretched and bulbous, allowing blood to clot on this altered vein wall.

Business-Traveller-Go-With-The-Flow

Prof Mark whiteley is featured in the Business Traveller magazine article – Go with the flow

Prof Mark Whiteley provides statistics on varicose veins that most are unaware of “Venous disease affects around 30-40 per cent of people, and of that 30-40 per cent, only 15-20 per cent of people know they have got problems with their veins, because they can see them. The others are hidden under the skin’s surface.”

For those people who do have veins that show, who have suffered from leg ulcers or superficial vein thrombosis (phlebitis), or who have a family history that might indicate problems, Prof Mark Whiteley recommends having a pre-emptory scan.

How do I avoid DVT?

As mentioned in the Business Traveller article, many people associate DVT with long haul flights and travelling and although this is a major cause, there are many other causes too, which should be recognised. One major one being with the likes of inactivity during the course of the current lockdown.

There is also mounting evidence that patients with a severe case of COVID-19 are at greater risk of developing blood clots in their veins and arteries. This is particularly the case in very sick patients, but there are reports coming through of patients who have not been unwell developing venous thrombosis. We have just submitted a report of a case to a medical journal of a man who got a clot in his testicular vein after contracting Covid-19.

Other causes may be from:

  • If you’re in a hospital for an operation, your risk of getting a blood clot increases. This is because DVT is more likely to occur when you’re unwell or less active than usual.
  • Pregnancy can able a cause of DVT. During pregnancy, blood clots more easily. It’s the body’s way of preventing too much blood being lost during childbirth.
  • Genetics also play a part and if a relative has previously had DVT you are more prone to have the condition too.

When To see a specialist?

Prof Mark Whiteley advises that If you are ever uncertain as to whether or not you are suffering from DVT, it is of vital importance that you go and see a venous specialist at the earliest opportunity so that they can carry out a duplex ultrasound scan and advise on treatment based on the results. A proper DVT scan will include all veins from ankle to groin, and if needed, including the pelvic veins.

Doctors who work in teams with vascular technologists and nurses are more likely to find out what the underlying cause of a patient’s varicose veins is

If a DVT is identified and treated immediately with anticoagulation, in most cases the clot is dissolved by the body’s own defences, and the vein will return to normal. However, in very severe cases some doctors remove the clot under x-ray control – although this is still not conclusively shown to be the best option. In the most extreme cases a DVT can cause an extension of thrombus – which can travel to the heart and lungs causing a condition called Pulmonary Embolus (PE). This is very serious and can even be fatal. Prompt anti-coagulation reduces the risk of this happening.

However, in most patients the DVT stays in the leg and does not move. If the diagnosis is delayed and treatment not started, the clot can cause scar tissue in the wall, damaging the deep veins permanently. This can result in swollen, discoloured and painful legs, and sometimes leg ulcers, a condition called post thrombotic syndrome (PTS).

Prof Mark Whiteley’s new book “Vein Health and Problems in Lockdown and Isolation” goes into this and other venous conditions. It will be available in December 2020.

If you are concerned that you have a DVT and would like to book a consultation or video consultation please call The Whiteley Clinic on 0330 058 1850 or contact us by clicking here

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your doctor or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site and the information provided is not a substitute for medical advice.