DVTs and PEs: What you should know

The presence of a DVT blood clot greatly increases the chances of a potentially life-threatening PE.

While originating in the legs, the presence of DVTs can potentially wreak havoc on lungs and heart.

DVTs, or deep vein thrombosis, are blood clots (clinically referred to as “thrombus”) that form within the deep venous system of the body, most often the legs.

Not all DVT sufferers experience symptoms, but those who do can feel pain or cramp-like discomfort in the affected leg.

Regardless of a patient experiencing symptoms or not, the presence of a DVT greatly increases the risk that a piece will break off of the large blood clot and travel throughout the blood vessel toward the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and heart.

Approaching the heart, the clot can block the blood flow to the lungs or heart and create a potentially life-threatening emergency.

Catching DVTs early allow for them to be addressed before they can create these complications. Minimally invasive procedures exist to remove these DVTs before that occurs.

DVT risk factors

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Sitting/Laying for a long period of time
  • Obesity/Excess weight
  • Injury
  • Recent surgery

Symptoms of DVT

  • Pain in the legs or calf
  • Cramp-like discomfort in the legs or calf
  • Swelling in one leg (it’s very rare that it appears in both legs)
  • Warming feeling in the leg
  • Redness or other discoloration in the leg

Not all DVT cases experience symptoms.

Symptoms for pulmonary embolism

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Discomfort when breathing deep or coughing
  • Rapid breathing and/or pulse
  • Coughing up blood

If any of these symptoms are present, medical intervention should be promptly sought.