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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot or thrombus in a deep vein. It is most common in the leg. But one may develop in the arm or other part of the body. Part of the clot, called an embolus, can break off and travel to the lungs. This is a pulmonary embolus (PE). This can cut off the flow of blood. PE is an emergency and may cause death.
If you have symptoms that may mean a blood clot in the lungs, call 911 or get emergency help. Symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs include chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing (may cough up blood), a fast heartbeat, sweating, and fainting.
Two other complications of a blood clot are chronic venous insufficiency and post-thrombotic syndrome.
The term "venous thromboembolism" (VTE) may be used to describe two conditions, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). This term is used because these two conditions are very closely related and because their prevention and treatment options may be similar.
Deep vein thrombosis can occur if you are inactive for a long period of time. Other factors include obesity, pregnancy, a disease such as cancer (and some of its treatments), heart disease and hereditary factors. To prevent DVT, experts recommend the following steps:
- Get moving. If you have been inactive for a long period of time, such as after an accident, an illness or surgery, get moving as soon as you can.
- Need to sit for long periods? Move your legs and stretch your feet.
- Stay active. Exercise regularly. If traveling by car, stop every hour and walk.
- On a plane or bus, walk in the aisles.
- Choose healthy habits. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Read more about DVT in our Health Library