- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the lower leg or thigh.
- When a blood clots breaks off and travels through the bloodstream, it is called an embolus. When the embolus travels to the lungs and blocks blood flow, it is a called a pulmonary embolism (PE). This is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- DVT symptoms occur in the affected leg and include swelling of the leg or a vein along the leg, pain or tenderness in the leg, and warm, red, or discolored skin near the affected part of the leg.
- Some people don't know they have DVT until they have signs or symptoms of pulmonary embolism, which include unexplained shortness of breath, pain with deep breathing, and coughing up blood.
- Treatments for DVTs include anticoagulants (blood thinners), thrombin inhibitors, and thrombolytics; a vena cava filter; and compression stockings to prevent blood from pooling and clotting in your leg.
- You can lower your risk of developing deep vein thromboses by moving around as soon as possible after surgery or illness and exercising your lower leg muscles during long trips.
Blood clots can form in your body's deep veins when:
- Damage occurs to a vein's inner lining. This damage may result from injuries caused by physical, chemical, and biological factors. Such factors include surgery, serious injury, inflammation, or an immune response.
- Blood flow is sluggish or slow. Lack of motion can cause sluggish or slowed blood flow. This may occur after surgery, if you're ill and in bed for a long time, or if you're traveling for a long time.
- Your blood is thicker or more likely to clot than usual. Certain inherited conditions (such as factor V Leiden) increase blood's tendency to clot. This also is true of treatment with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or birth control pills.
Reference: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Last Updated April 24, 2017