Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), which includes both Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE), is primarily caused by blood clotting in the veins. This condition can arise from a combination of several factors often described by Virchow’s triad: stasis of blood flow, endothelial injury, and hypercoagulability.

1. Stasis of Blood Flow

  • Explanation: Slowed or stagnant blood flow in the deep veins, typically in the legs, can contribute to clot formation. This is common during periods of prolonged immobility, such as after surgery, during long flights or car rides, or when confined to bed during a hospital stay.

2. Endothelial Injury

  • Description: Damage to the inner lining of the vein can trigger blood clotting. Such injuries can occur during surgical procedures, due to trauma, or from intravenous catheters or injections.

3. Hypercoagulability

  • Mechanism: Certain medical conditions, medications, or genetic factors can make blood more prone to clotting. Conditions like cancer, certain autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus), or hormonal changes due to pregnancy or birth control pills increase the risk of clotting.

Additional Contributing Factors:

  • Genetic Predispositions: Some people inherit disorders that increase their blood’s tendency to clot. Examples include Factor V Leiden mutation, prothrombin gene mutation, and deficiencies in naturally occurring anticoagulant proteins such as protein C, protein S, and antithrombin.
  • Age: The risk of developing VTE increases with age, especially over 60.
  • Obesity: Excessive body weight increases the pressure in the veins of the pelvis and legs, which can affect blood flow and lead to clot formation.
  • Smoking: Tobacco use adversely affects blood clotting and circulation, which can increase the risk of VTE.
  • Chronic Inflammatory Diseases: Conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of VTE.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy or Birth Control Pills: These can increase the likelihood of clotting, particularly in women with other risk factors.

Understanding these causes and risk factors is essential for preventing VTE, particularly for individuals in high-risk categories or those undergoing situations that could precipitate these conditions. Effective management often involves addressing these underlying causes through medical interventions, lifestyle modifications, and preventative measures.

Categorized in:

Cardiovascular, Thromboembolism,

Last Update: May 28, 2024