Deep Vein Thrombosis Overview

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the body’s deeper veins. Usually occurring in the legs, DVT can block blood flow and cause damage to the veins. Deep vein thrombosis can be life-threatening if a blood clot breaks free from its position in the vein and travels to the lungs, a complication known as a pulmonary embolism.  

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may include:

  • Chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Coughing up blood

Patients experiencing one or more of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

There are several factors that place a person at a higher risk of developing DVT, including:

  • Genetics – Inheriting a disorder that makes blood clot more easily increases the risk of developing DVT.
  • Pregnancy – The increased pressure on veins caused by pregnancy heightens the risk of DVT for up to six weeks after delivery.
  • Smoking – Smoking impacts both circulation and blood clotting, making those who smoke more likely to develop DVT.
  • Prolonged periods of inactivity – Things like paralysis or bed rest lead to poor blood circulation, increasing the risk of DVT

Deep vein thrombosis can occur without presenting any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually consist of swelling and pain in the affected area. If you are experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a physician who can assess your condition and suggest an appropriate course of treatment. Tampa General Hospital provides treatment for deep vein thrombosis and many other vascular conditions. Treatment for deep vein thrombosis aims to keep the existing clot from getting bigger, as well as preventing it from turning into a pulmonary embolism. Once the clot has been controlled, the goal of treatment is to prevent new clots from developing. These goals are achieved through the use of blood thinners, clotbusters, filters, and/or compression stockings. To be referred to a specialist with Tampa General Hospital, please visit our online Physician Finder or call 1-800-822-DOCS (3627).