Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition that involves deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). It is estimated that approximately one in four deaths occur due to venous thromboembolism worldwide. It is a common, life-threatening disorder.
DVT involves the formation of blood clots (thrombus) in vein deep inside your body (most commonly in legs). A thrombus is composed of red blood cells, platelets and leukocytes bound together by fibrin. These clots either remain in the peripheral veins or embolize to the pulmonary arteries resulting in PE.
VTE is the third most prevalent cardiovascular disease (CV) after acute coronary syndrome and stroke. Nearly two-thirds of all VTE events result from hospitalization. PE is considered as third most common cause of hospital-related deaths.
In some cases, VTE may not cause any symptoms and remains unnoticed. The signs and symptoms of VTE can be classified into two types based on location of the thrombi:
If you have deep venous thrombosis, you may experience:
A limb-threatening manifestation of DVT that your doctor would identify includes massive limb swelling, high blood pressure in the capillary bed, and eventually ischemia and gangrene if left untreated. This is because the thrombus completely occludes venous outflow.
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, tachypnea, chest pain, and dizziness.
VTE may occur as a result of genetic predisposition as well as acquired risk factors. Experts suggest that a major theory called Virchow's triad proposes that the condition is due to alterations in the blood flow, damage to your vessels walls, and increased activation of clotting factors.
Treatment for VTE aims at preventing the growth of blood clot and formation of new clots. Prompt treatment is essential to avoid fatal complications.
One of the major complications of VTE is its recurrence. The long-term complications of VTE include chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTPH) and the post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS).
Following are certain measures to prevent VTE or recurrence of VTE:
The common risk factors for VTE include:
Your doctor begins the diagnosis with a thorough physical examination that includes checking for the signs and symptoms of VTE. The common diagnostic tests to identify VTE include: