Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis: Who is at Greater Risk?

Risk Factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis: Who is at Greater Risk?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a vascular condition that occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs. While DVT can affect individuals of various ages and backgrounds, understanding the risk factors associated with this condition is crucial for both prevention and early detection. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the intricacies of the risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis, shedding light on who is at greater risk and why.

The Common Risk Factors:

  1. Age:
    • As the clock ticks, our bodies undergo various changes, and the risk of DVT tends to increase with age. While it can manifest at any life stage, DVT is more prevalent in older adults. Aging is often associated with alterations in blood vessel structure and reduced mobility, factors that contribute to a higher risk of clot formation.
  2. Genetics and Family History:
    • The familial thread weaves its influence in the development of DVT. Genetic factors play a significant role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to blood clotting disorders. If there’s a family history of DVT or clotting disorders, the risk for affected individuals is notably higher. Specific genetic conditions can impact the clotting process, making blood more prone to forming clots.
  3. Previous History of DVT:
    • Past episodes of DVT can cast a long shadow on an individual’s health. Those who have experienced a clot once are at a greater risk of recurrence. It underscores the importance of ongoing management and preventive measures for individuals with a history of blood clots.
  4. Immobility and Prolonged Bed Rest:
    • A sedentary lifestyle or prolonged periods of bed rest can tip the scales in favor of DVT. Long hours of immobility, whether due to hospitalization, extended flights, or post-surgical bed rest, hinder the natural circulation of blood and create an environment conducive to clot formation.

Medical Conditions:

  1. Cancer:
    • The dark alliance between cancer and DVT is well-established. Both the presence of tumors and certain cancer treatments can elevate the risk of blood clot formation. Tumors may release substances that trigger clotting, and some cancer therapies can directly affect the clotting process.
  2. Obesity:
    • Carrying excess weight doesn’t just strain the joints; it can burden the circulatory system as well. Obesity is linked to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), as it places additional pressure on veins, potentially impeding blood flow and making clot formation more likely. Additionally, obesity is associated with other risk factors such as inflammation and insulin resistance.
  3. Heart Disease and Stroke:
    • Disorders affecting the cardiovascular system, including heart disease and stroke, can disrupt the normal flow of blood. This disturbance in circulation increases the risk of clotting, making individuals with these conditions more susceptible to DVT.
  4. Inflammatory Conditions:
    • Chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, add another layer to the complexity of DVT risk factors. Persistent inflammation can damage blood vessels and create an environment conducive to clot formation.

Lifestyle Factors:

  1. Smoking:
    • In the conglemorate of risk factors, smoking plays a distinct role in promoting DVT. The chemicals in tobacco can damage blood vessels, creating an environment conducive to clot formation. Smoking is often associated with other risk factors like cardiovascular disease and respiratory issues, further amplifying the risk.
  2. Hormonal Factors:
    • Hormones wield considerable influence over the circulatory system. Changes in hormonal levels due to pregnancy, birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy can impact blood clotting. Pregnant women, in particular, face an increased risk due to the combination of hormonal changes and increased pressure on pelvic veins.


  • Medical management with blood thinners:

     Administration of injectable or oral blood thinners is the first line of treatment in DVT. Interventional treatments are indicated in cases where thrombus load is significantly high and thrombus extending into iliac veins, IVC or when there are contraindications to administration of blood thinners. Sometimes when the Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is not responding to medical management interventional treatment is recommended. The interventional treatments include catheter directed thrombolysis, mechanical thrombectomy, IVC filter placement.

 Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis (CDT):

    • Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis CDT involves the use of a catheter to deliver clot-dissolving medications directly to the site of the blood clot. This targeted approach is particularly beneficial for extensive or severe cases of DVT, aiming to quickly break down the clot and restore blood flow.
  •  Mechanical Thrombectomy:
    • Thrombectomy is a surgical procedure that physically removes the blood clot from the affected vein. Minimally invasive techniques are now commonly used, involving specialized instruments or devices to break up and remove the clot.
  • Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement:
    • For individuals at risk of pulmonary embolism, an IVC filter may be inserted into the inferior vena cava to trap and prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs.
  • Angioplasty and Stenting:
    • In cases where DVT has caused damage to the veins or resulted in narrowing, angioplasty and stenting may be considered. This procedure involves using a balloon to widen the vein and placing a stent to keep it open, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of recurrence. This procedure is especially helpful in patients with May- Thurners syndrome.
  • Compression Therapy:
    • While not an interventional procedure, compression therapy is often part of the overall treatment plan for DVT. Compression stockings help reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, and prevent the development of post-thrombotic syndrome.


Knowledge of  DVT risk factors, is an important step towards proactive prevention and early intervention. It’s crucial for individuals with multiple risk factors to be vigilant about their vascular health, adopting preventive measures and seeking regular medical check-ups.

Prevention strategies often include lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and avoiding prolonged periods of immobility. For those with identified risk factors, interventional radiologist may recommend anticoagulant medications or other interventions for early recovery and prevention of complications.

About the Author:



DR. SURESH GIRAGANI CONSULTANT INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGIST at Apollo hospitals Jubilee Hills has more than sixteen years of clinical experience in vascular interventions with a special interest in neurovascular and peripheral vascular disease interventional procedures.

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