Alternative Names: DVT, Deep Venous Thrombosis, Blood Clot In The Legs, Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein that is deep inside the body, usually in the lower leg or thigh. DVT is a serious condition because a blood clot that has formed in a vein can break loose and travel to the lungs or another critical organ, potentially causing death.
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Causes and Development
Sitting still for a long time, for example in a car or airplane, significantly increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis developing. Certain medical conditions can also predispose a person to blood clots.
Signs and Symptoms
Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain, but in about half of all cases, deep vein thrombosis occurs without any noticeable symptoms. When symptoms occur, they include:
- Swelling of the affected leg, ankle or foot;
- Leg, ankle or foot pain that often starts in the calf and may feel like cramping or a "charley horse";
- Redness and warmth in the affected area.
Signs of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Unexplained sudden shortness of breath;
- Chest pain or discomfort worsened by taking a deep breath or coughing;
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting;
- Coughing up blood;
- A feeling of anxiety or nervousness.
Prognosis; Seek medical attention if...
Many deep vein thromboses disappear on their own. However, if the clot may travel to the lungs, blocking blood flow and causing a Pulmonary Embolism. A Pulmonary Embolism is potentially fatal.
A doctor should be consulted if signs or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis develop. If signs or symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are present, seek medical attention immediately.