Medical experts have been studying deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for centuries. With DVT, a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your body. That can sometimes lead to serious complications like a blood clot in the lung (called a pulmonary embolism or PE) or stroke. Researchers are learning more about the condition all the time, and they’ve made some exciting progress on ways to diagnose and treat DVT. Read on to learn the latest on DVT research.
New Tools for Tough-to-Treat Clots
Some blood clots are harder to get rid of than others. But researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have come up with a method that may help with the dense clots that are toughest to treat. Experts found that by putting tiny particles (called nanodroplets) into the bloodstream and using an ultrasound “drill” on the outside of the body to vibrate the particles, they were able to help dissolve deep clots. The procedure has only been through lab tests so far, but the research team found that when used with DVT medication, it decreased the size of dangerous clots by an average of 40%.
The Link Between DVT and COVID-19
Researchers know that the COVID-19 virus often causes breathing problems and flu-like symptoms, and it can lead to serious health problems. A study from UC San Diego Health shows that one of those problems is a higher risk of dangerous blood clots. What’s more, researchers found that people who have COVID-19 and get DVT or a pulmonary embolism are much more likely to die from the virus than those who don’t have clots. Recognizing the link may help doctors be on the lookout for signs of DVT in people who have COVID-19.
Using Computers to Find the Cause
There are many things that cause or contribute to blood clots, but doctors can’t always tell what they are. A cutting-edge tool called an intelligent platelet aggregate classifier (iPAC) may help change that. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan used a machine-learning technology to train a computer to study subtle differences in blood clots. Those differences helped reveal the type of clot a person has. Because different types of clots may respond better to certain medications and procedures, researchers hope the technology will help doctors decide on the best treatment for their patients.
A Surprising DVT Risk
A 2019 study using existing research revealed that adults with naturally higher levels of iron in their blood are at a higher risk for DVT. The researchers suspect that iron plays a role in causing clots to form when people have low blood flow, including the clots that can cause a stroke. They hope to learn more in new studies on patients.
New Clues for Inflammation Linked to DVT
Up to 40% of DVT cases don’t have an easy-to-identify cause, such as a gene change that increases clotting or an underlying condition like atrial fibrillation. But researchers at the University of Michigan believe they’re closer to uncovering unexplained DVT. While looking into how inflammation plays a role in the condition, the researchers found an enzyme called CD39. They say CD39 sends out “danger” signals and inflammatory substances called cytokines while a blood clot forms. The team also found that blocking an inflammatory molecule called interleukin 1 beta helped prevent clots from forming. Though the research was done on mice, experts think it may help develop new ways to diagnose and treat DVT in humans.