Causes & Risk Factors of DVT

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are usually considered a cosmetic issue. However, varicosities often produce leg discomfort: aching, throbbing, fullness, or an engorged feeling in the legs. If you suspect your varicose veins are caused by DVT, or if you have sudden swelling in one leg and shortness of breath, get help right away. The diagnosis is as simple as a blood test or ultrasound.

Risk Factors for DVT

  • DVT most often develops because the leg is inactive, perhaps during plane or car rides, periods of bed rest from surgery, leg paralysis (from a stroke or spinal cord injury), or if a person has leg casts or braces
  • Active smoking
  • Use of birth control or other hormonal replacement
  • Extreme dehydration
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of blood clotting problems inherited or an acquired tendency to clot the blood

DVTs are also associated with cancer and cancer treatment. A certain percentage of people with DVT have an occult (not yet detected) malignancy. For this reason, we remind all people with DVT to consider routine cancer screening exams (mammography, colonoscopy, prostate exam).

Blood Thinner Treatment for DVT

Warfarin (coumadin) is the most widely used oral medication for this purpose, but the medication may take several days to reach an appropriate level in the bloodstream. Usually, patients are started on a medication given by injection (Lovenox or Enoxaparin) which acts immediately, until the warfarin reaches full effect. Blood tests called protime (PT) and INR must be checked periodically in order to ensure that the warfarin level is appropriate. The level may vary depending on diet, exercise, and other medications. Other oral anticoagulants are being studied currently to be used as alternatives to warfarin.

Some people with DVT may be good candidates for clot thrombolysis, a procedure to remove clot surgically.


"Dr. Pak saved my life and my left leg. Earlier this year, I had a DVT that resulted in major blood clots all the way up to my pelvis. The first physician tried to treat it with blood thinners. Two days later, my left leg was two and one half times its normal size. Dr. Pak came to the rescue by performing life-saving surgery. The technique she used was cutting edge and first rate. Now, my left leg is completely back to normal and all clots are gone. In addition, Dr. Pak explained everything and her post-operative care was remarkable. She left no stone unturned in doing everything to maximize my chances of recovery. She was to vascular surgery what Mozart was to music.”

- MZ, DVT Patient