Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a disease which includes both deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). These two diseases are the form of venous thromboembolism but have different symptoms and the areas where they occur.
First, we will discuss that what is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it is a disease which occurs when a blood clot forms, usually in the lower body that include legs, lower legs, and feet. It normally happens when someone sits in a place for a long period of time. For example, if you have had a surgery recently and you are currently in the recovery period normally you won’t move much and stay in your bed as recommended by the doctor. It can also happen to a frequent traveler who travels a lot and have to sit for a long period during the long and hectic flights.
What happens when you don’t move and sit idle for a long period of time? I’d say the answer to this question is quite simple, a blood clot in your legs or lower leg. This blood clot that results in the occurrence of a condition named deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Now coming towards the pulmonary embolism, it is somehow connected to DVT. Pulmonary embolism or PE occurs when the blood clot that has been formed in the body breaks and starts to travel through the veins of your body. This clot then reaches your lungs and block vessels in your lungs that results in the severe damage of the blood vessels and lungs.
Just to be clear that Venous thromboembolism shouldn’t be mixed up with some sort of a muscle injury. It can happen due to a muscle injury but it is far more dangerous than muscle injury and a lot of people die due to VTE every year. When I say a lot, it means more people die due to VTE as compared to the people suffering from AIDs, road accidents, breast cancer or other causes that are thought to be very dangerous.
Now that we have discussed enough the Venous thromboembolism that includes DVT and PE. Let’s move towards a real-life example of a patient suffering from VTE.
A 35 years old passionate hiker came to the clinic seeking for the help in the treatment of his leg muscle that was ripped during a hike. As he was a passionate hiker he had been involved in a long hike, some of which continued for days. During these hikes, the muscles of his legs got damaged several times. He had a friend who happened to be a doctor, recommended him that he should apply heat to the affected area on a daily basis. His friend also recommends him some physical exercises such as stretching of the muscles etc.
His consultant told him that this is not a serious issue and he can start hiking again once the damaged muscle is healed. Even his consultant was not aware of the fact that this is not just a simple muscle injury, he was suffering from the VTE!
He listened to his doctor and did what he was told to do such as applying heat and exercises. But with the passage of time this issue remained the same in fact, even got worse. Now he had a swollen leg with a lot of pain.
He also feels pain when walking on his toes. He explained that he was constantly having discomfort while sitting with his knee in flexion.
He then went for a second opinion from another consultant and after his consultant did some tests, he was told that he is suffering from the Venous thromboembolism, which is not an ordinary disease. His second doctor did the ultrasound of his leg that was affected as well as performed other methods such as CT scan of his lungs.
He was admitted to the hospital immediately and anti-coagulants (blood thinner) were started. He was treated for two days in the hospital with the anti-coagulants and after two days when the treatment was finished his doctor did the tests again and came to know that he had no symptoms of DVT hence was discharged from the hospital,
He was recommended by his consultant to continue anticoagulant therapy for four months. He was instructed by his physician not to return to hiking while on anticoagulant therapy because there was a risk of bleeding in his affected leg.
So by this case study, it should be clear that Venous thromboembolism is not a muscle injury but can happen due to it and one shouldn’t recommend the everyday techniques without knowing the actual condition. It is very dangerous and could lead to serious consequences.
Some of the most common symptoms of the DVT and PE are stated below.
- Redness on the skin of the affected area
- Swelling of the affected area
- When you touch the affected skin area it feels warm.
If the clot moves through the veins and travel to the lungs it is known as PE and it has the following symptoms.
- Chest pain that could be worse when you try to breathe deeply or a cough
- Coughing, sometimes you even bleed while coughing.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Treatment of VTE
There are several ways through which DVT and PE can be treated, we are going to discuss some of them briefly.
Anticoagulants are the drugs that are normally used in the treatment of DVT and PE. They are basically the blood thinners. If you are suffering from Venous thromboembolism, you should use Anticoagulants that are recommended by your doctor.
Thrombolytic are normally used in the treatment of PE. As we know that pulmonary embolism is an emergency situation in which a blood clot travel in the lungs and block the breathing of the patient. So thrombolytic drugs are used by the doctors because they help to break the blood clot present in the lungs.
One can only get this medication in a hospital emergency in special circumstances.
- MedShoola SCD Pump and Compression stockings:
The treatment of DVT and PE revolves around the breaking of blood clots and make the blood to flow in a regular manner. SCD pump and Compression stocking are used to prevent DVT and PE.
However, it should not be used if the patient already has been suffering from VTE. It is not recommended if the patient has an acute blood clot in the legs since it can cause the clot to break off and travel to the lungs.
- Inferior Vena Cava Filters
An inferior vena cava filter (IVC filter) is a type of vascular filter, which is used by surgeons into the inferior vena cava to probably prevent life-threatening pulmonary embolism.