Stop the clot

Know the signs of deep vein thrombosis.

January 5, 2020


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms deep in the veins, usually in a leg. If it breaks loose, it can travel to a lung and cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). This can be fatal. The clot can also travel to the brain and cause a stroke. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 100,000 Americans die from DVT every year — more than breast cancer and AIDS combined. March is national DVT Awareness Month. It focuses on educating the public about DVT.

Symptoms of DVT and PEs

DVT symptoms often occur in the leg and can include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth
  • Redness

PE symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain 
  • Coughing or coughing up blood

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your primary care doctor as soon as possible.

Know your risks

DVT and PEs can happen to people of all activity levels and ages, from children to seniors. Major risk factors include:

  • Not moving or sitting for long periods
  • Being overweight
  • Surgery
  • Varicose veins
  • Chronic lung disease
  • A prior history or family history of DVT or PE
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Smoking
  • Cancer

We can lower the risk for a DVT/PE to a certain extent. Treatment may include moving bedridden patients and using compression devices, which wrap around the legs and help prevent clots. Blood-thinning medications may also be used. 

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.