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:
Risk factors for DVT include:
Symptoms occur when:
Some patients 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.
Tests may include:
Treatment aims to:
This may include:
Anticoagulant drugs to prevent additional clot formation include:
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 any clots that break loose before it travels to the lungs.
If you are diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, follow your doctor's instructions .
General prevention measures include:
If you are admitted to the hospital, talk to your doctor about how to prevent blood clots, such as:
American Heart Association
American Venous Forum
Canadian Heart and Stroke Association
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Last reviewed November 2009 by
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