Deep Vein Thrombosis
by Debra Wood, RN
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. Veins are blood vessels with valves that help prevent backward blood flow. Blood is pushed through the veins in legs and arms when muscles contract.
Deposits of red blood cells and clotting elements in the blood can build up in a vein. This build up leads to a blood clot. Clots usually occur in the legs, but can occur in other locations. As the clot grows, it blocks blood flow in the vein.
Several factors contribute to clot formation, including:
Factors that may increase your chance of DVT include:
Symptoms occur when:
Some may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism.
Symptoms of DVT may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The treatment goals are to:
Treatment options include:
This may include:
Blood thinners are used to prevent additional clots from forming. These may be given by injection or by mouth. This treatment may be continued long-term.
In some cases, a filter may be placed in the inferior vena cava. The vena cava is a major vein. Blood from the lower body returns to the heart through this vein. The filter may trap a clot that breaks loose before it travels to the lungs.
To help reduce your chances of DVT:
If you are admitted to the hospital:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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