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Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the calves, thighs or pelvis. DVT is dangerous and can happen to anyone, but it can be prevented or treated if discovered early.

Blood clots can cause the following problems:

  • Reduce or block blood flow in your legs, causing chronic pain and swelling and making it difficult for you to walk.
  • Damage valves in blood vessels, causing chronic pain and swelling.
  • Break free and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs (known as pulmonary embolism). There, a clot can cause damage or even death within hours.

Deep vein thrombosis symptoms

People with DVT may not have symptoms. Among those who do, symptoms can occur in one or both legs, including the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness, possibly only when standing or walking
  • Red or discolored skin on the affected area
  • Increased warmth in the affected area

Deep vein thrombosis risk factors

  • Injury to a vein, often caused by major surgery, fractures or muscle injury
  • Slow blood flow as a result of bed rest, paralysis or sitting for a long time while traveling
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Estrogen or hormonal therapy
  • Cancer

How can I get help for deep vein thrombosis?

Your primary care physician can examine you if one or both legs are swollen, red or painful. If your doctor suspects DVT, you may need further tests:

  • Blood tests, including a d-dimer test to check for a substance released by blood clotting
  • Ultrasound imaging of the legs to look for blood clots