Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is not a traumatic injury. When you get into an accident, the forces you experience will not cause deep vein thrombosis. But people who get injured or require surgery after an injury have an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis during their recovery.
Here is some information about how deep vein thrombosis happens and when you can seek compensation for its effects.
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What is the Circulatory System?
Your cells need oxygen and nutrients for cellular metabolism, one function of your circulatory system. As your cells perform the chemical reactions necessary for life, they produce waste in the form of carbon dioxide. You can analogize your cells to engines that burn fuel and oxygen and produce carbon dioxide exhaust.
Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your body. The blood cells drop off nutrients and exchange the oxygen molecules for carbon dioxide molecules. The blood carrying the carbon dioxide returns to the heart, which pumps it to the lungs. There, the blood cells drop off the carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen before returning to the heart to repeat the cycle.
Your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your body. Your veins carry oxygen-depleted blood back to your heart.
Since your veins carry blood on its return trip to the heart, the blood often has a lower pressure than in your arteries. Also, the blood must flow against gravity as it returns from your legs and arms. As a result, veins include valves to prevent blood from flowing backward.
How Does Deep Vein Thrombosis Happen?
Deep vein thrombosis happens when blood clots form in a vein. These clots can happen for a few reasons, including:
Coagulation is a chemical change in your blood that causes the blood to thicken. When you suffer a cut, the blood coagulates to stop the bleeding. By definition, coagulation leads to blood clots.
When you suffer an injury or undergo surgery, foreign matter can get into your blood. Foreign matter in the blood triggers coagulation. Blood clots form around tissue debris, collagen, fat, and microorganisms to protect the body. But these clots can get stuck in your veins, particularly the deep veins in your arms, legs, and hips.
Low circulation, also known as stasis, can allow blood to collect in your veins. The blood pools near the valves, where it can coagulate or clot.
When your veins get crushed or cut, the body naturally triggers coagulation to prevent you from bleeding to death. Unfortunately, your body does not know the difference between a surgeon moving a vein to operate on you and a car hitting you in a pedestrian accident. As the blood coagulates, clots can form.
What Are the Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
The clots that cause deep vein thrombosis can block your circulation. This causes blood to collect behind the clot. In some cases, you may experience:
- Tenderness near the clot
In many cases, you might not experience any symptoms at all.
What Complications Might Arise from Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Since the clots in deep vein thrombosis form in the veins, the risk that they will cause a heart attack or stroke is fairly low. But they can cause other complications, including:
A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot gets lodged in the blood vessels that connect your heart and lungs. Since the venous blood cannot drop off its carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen, a pulmonary embolism suffocates your body from the inside.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dizzy or lightheaded feeling
- Heart arrhythmia
- Coughing, including coughing blood
- Low blood pressure
Pulmonary embolisms can cause death without emergency treatment. In most cases, doctors can break up the embolism with blood thinners.
As many as one-third of people with deep vein thrombosis will experience post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS results from damage to the veins caused by the clot. More specifically, clots often damage the valves in the long veins running to the legs.
When these valves get damaged, blood runs backward into your legs. You may experience:
- Skin ulcers
In severe cases, the swelling and poor circulation damage nerve and muscle tissue. You might have difficulty standing or walking.
Doctors treat PTS with compression stockings or pneumatic compression devices that squeeze venous blood out of the legs.
What Are the Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis can result from almost any injury or surgery. Some factors that increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis include:
Leg or Hip Fractures
Leg or hip fractures can trigger the coagulation response in the leg veins. Since these veins are the most likely to develop deep vein thrombosis, this coagulation response can create clots that lodge in the legs.
Older people have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis because they have less powerful circulatory systems. A slip & fall accident can fracture a hip and trigger deep vein thrombosis.
Bed rest due to disease, injury, or surgery can lead to deep vein thrombosis. As you lay in bed, gravity can cause your blood to pool and clot.
Periodically moving about can circulate the blood. If you cannot move, your doctor may prescribe compression socks or a pneumatic compression device to squeeze the blood from your legs to keep it circulating.
Is Compensation Available for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
If you experienced deep vein thrombosis after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be able to seek compensation for its effects.
Deep vein thrombosis that results from someone else’s actions can support an injury claim. To discuss whether you can recover compensation for your deep vein thrombosis, contact now Stephens Law Office, LLC for a free consultation.