What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein in the body. DVT is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. The blood clot can partially or totally block blood flow in the vein. Although DVT usually occurs in the leg veins, the blood clot can break off and travel to the lungs. If the clot blocks a lung artery (called pulmonary embolus) it can be life-threatening.
DVT can also damage the valves in the veins, causing blood to flow backward and pool in the legs. This causes increased pressure in the veins, known as chronic venous insufficiency or the post-phlebitic syndrome.
When to call your physician
Call your physician if you have sudden swelling in your leg or arm or any of the following symptoms, which may indicate a pulmonary embolus:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Cough, with or without blood
- Low grade fever
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath