Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where blood gets trapped on the inner walls of a vein and forms a solid clump of blood known as a blood clot. If the clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream, its interaction with the body’s organs and circulatory system can prove fatal. For example, when a blood clot lodges itself in the lungs, the blockage can make it difficult to breathe and may even cause death. This is known as a pulmonary embolism

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition and is considered a medical emergency. In most cases, blood clots form in the veins located within a muscle, arm or leg (deep veins), but they can also develop in other areas of your body. In general, the blood supply is transported by arteries and veins. The arteries carry blood from the heart to the limbs; veins carry blood back to the heart.


Many factors can contribute to the formation of a DVT. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the risk. However, even people without these risk factors can form a DVT. Risk range from the following:

Blood or vein conditions:

  • Previous DVT
  • Varicose veins
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Family history of DVT or blood clotting disorders

Other medical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic swelling of the legs
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer
  • Dehydration
  • Sepsis

Women’s health issues:

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Birth control pills containing estrogen
  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth


  • Age over 40 years old
  • Immobility (through inactivity or from wearing a cast)
  • Recent surgery
  • Trauma (an injury)
  • Smoking


Some people with DVT in the leg have either no warning signs at all or very vague symptoms.

Contact your doctor if you notice:

  • Swelling in the leg
  • Pain in the calf or thigh
  • Warmth and redness of the leg

Potential Treatments

The diagnosis must be performed because of the similarities between symptoms of DVT and those of other conditions. If DVT is suspected, your doctor will perform some tests, which may include a blood test, Doppler ultrasound, venogram, MRI or angiogram. If your tests indicate a clot is present, your doctor will make a recommendation regarding treatment. Depending on the location of the clot, you may need hospitalization. Medical or surgical care will be managed by a team of physicians.

Treatment may include:

  • Medication. A blood-thinning medication is usually prescribed to help prevent additional clots from forming.
  • Compression stockings. Wearing fitted hosiery decreases pain and swelling.
  • Surgery. A surgical procedure performed by a vascular specialist may be required.
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