Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein. They are most common in the leg, but may develop in the arm or other part of the body.
DVT is a serious condition that requires medical attention because blood clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing what’s called a pulmonary embolism. This can cut off the flow of blood to all or part of the lung.
Pulmonary embolism is a severe, life-threatening emergency. If you have symptoms that may indicate a blood clot in the lungs, call 911 or get emergency help immediately. Symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs include chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing (may cough up blood), a fast heartbeat, sweating, and fainting.
The vascular and endovascular surgeons at Cooper University Health Care are experts at treating deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Why Choose Cooper to Treat Deep Vein Thrombosis?
With their advanced training and experience, Cooper’s vascular and endovascular surgeons are skilled at recognizing the signs of deep vein thrombosis, and ensuring fast, accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Other highlights of our DVT capabilities include:
- Advanced diagnostic tools: Along with a medical history, physical exam and blood work to look for blood clotting and other issues, your Cooper healthcare provider may perform other tests including:
- Duplex ultrasound, the gold standard test to assess blood flow and diagnose DVT
- Personalized treatment based on your age, overall health, clot location(s), tolerance for certain medications, and personal preferences. The goal of treatment is to prevent the blood clot from getting larger, prevent it from traveling to the lungs, and decrease the chance of another blood clot forming. Treatments for DVT include:
- Blood thinners (anticoagulant medicines)
- Clot busters (fibrinolytics or thrombolytics), medicines used to break up clots.
- Inferior vena cava filter; in some cases, a filter is placed in the large vein that returns blood from the body to the heart to prevent clots from reaching the heart and lungs
Deep Vein Thrombosis Causes and Risk Factors
Deep vein thrombosis can develop if you have certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots. Extended periods of inactivity, such as after surgery, an accident, or on a long trip, also may cause DVT to develop.
Factors that increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis include:
- Overweight or obesity
- Blood clotting disorder
- Age over 60
- Having surgery
- Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Certain diseases and conditions, such as:
- Previous blood clot
- Varicose veins
- Heart problems, such as heart failure, or heart attack
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Lupus, a disease of the immune system
- Cancer and some cancer treatments
- Having a central venous catheter (a catheter placed in a large vein such as in the chest, neck or groin to administer medication))
Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms
The common symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are:
- Pain in the affected area (usually the leg)
- Swelling in the affected leg
- Red or discolored skin
- A feeling of warmth in the leg or other affected area
If you experience these symptoms, it can mean you have a blood clot--and you should seek medical attention. The symptoms of a blood clot may also look like other medical conditions, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Deep vein thrombosis also may happen without symptoms.
Complications from Deep Vein Thrombosis
In addition to pulmonary embolism, there are two other complications that can result from deep vein thrombosis:
- Chronic venous insufficiency [LINK to Chronic Venous Insufficiency Conditions page] means that a vein no longer works well. It is a long-term condition where blood pools in the vein instead of flowing back to the heart. Pain and swelling in the leg are common symptoms.
- Post-thrombotic syndrome may also happen following a blood clot in a leg vein. It is a long-term problem associated with pain, swelling, and redness. Ulcers and sores can also develop. All of these symptoms may make it difficult to walk and take part in daily activities.
Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis
There are many things you can do to help prevent deep vein thrombosis:
- Regularly wiggle your toes and move your ankles if you sit or lie down for long periods
- When you travel:
- Walk up and down the aisles periodically (if traveling by plane or bus)
- Stop about every hour and walk a little (if traveling by car)
- Wear loose clothing
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Drink a lot of water and other healthy drinks
- Get up and move as soon as possible after surgery or illness
- Wear a sequential compression device (SCD) if you are confined to bed for an extended period. SCDs are “sleeves” that wrap around the legs and inflate one at a time, applying gentle pressure to the legs. This imitates walking, improves blood flow in the legs, and helps prevent blood clots.
- Wear compression stockings, if prescribed by your healthcare provider
In addition, if you are having surgery, you may be given anticoagulant medicines to prevent blood clots.
To learn more about the services available in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery or to schedule an appointment, please call 856.342.2151.
Refer a Patient
If you are a doctor who wants to refer a patient to the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, please call 856.968.7067.