Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in a vein deep in the body, usually in the legs. Deep vein thrombosis can be potentially life-threatening because a blood clot that has formed in your vein can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow. This is called pulmonary embolism.
This section contains further details about what deep vein thrombosis is, how it occurs, and what causes this condition. While it is possible for deep vein thrombosis to occur without symptoms, there are a range of common warning signs, such as pain, swelling and discolouration in the affected area, that are associated with the condition. To learn more about these symptoms, read on.
If you are worried about developing deep vein thrombosis, there are some tips available to help you prevent clots from occurring in your body’s deep veins. There is also information about the diagnostic tests used to identify deep vein thrombosis.
For those with deep vein thrombosis, there is a section entirely dedicated to the treatment options available for this condition.
Not everyone with deep vein thrombosis will experience noticeable signs and symptoms. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that symptoms occur in only half of all cases. When they are present, they usually include:
If a blood clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, it causes a life-threatening complication called a pulmonary embolism. The warning signs of pulmonary embolism include:
If you develop signs or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, contact your doctor for guidance. If you develop any of the warning signs of a pulmonary embolism, seek medical attention or go to the emergency room immediately. Do not wait for the symptoms to pass, as immediate treatment reduces the risk of serious complications.
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in a vein deep in the body. The clot may partially or completely block blood flow through the vein. Deep vein thrombosis mostly occurs in the lower leg, thighs or pelvis, although it is possible for it to occur in other parts of the body, such as the arm.
Even though deep vein thrombosis itself is not life-threatening, a blood clot in a deep vein is a serious problem because a piece of the clot can break off and travel through the deep veins back to the heart, and eventually be pumped by the heart into the arteries of the lung. When this happens, the condition is called pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism can damage the lungs and other organs of the body and cause death.
Blood clots in the thighs are more likely to break off and cause pulmonary embolism than blood clots in the lower legs or other parts of the body. Blood clots also can form in veins closer to the skin's surface. However, these clots won't break off and cause pulmonary embolism.
Blood clots in your body’s deep veins can be caused by many different things, namely anything that causes your blood not to circulate normally or clot properly. The most common causes of deep vein thrombosis are:
To diagnose deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. He or she will also perform a physical exam to examine your limbs for swelling, tenderness or discolouration. Depending on how likely you are to have a blood clot, your doctor may suggest further testing, including:
Deep vein thrombosis treatment options include:
Most cases of deep vein thrombosis develop in people who are inactive because of injury or surgery. If you have had deep vein thrombosis before, or you have a family history of blood-clotting problems, you can take steps to prevent blood clots. These steps are: