Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood cells
stick together and form a clot deep in the body’s larger, deeper veins, typically in the thigh or lower leg.
The center for disease control estimates that the number of people affected by deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism each year in the USA ranges from 300,000 to 600,000.
Possible complications of deep vein thrombosis include:
- Pulmonary embolism. If the DVT clot breaks off the walls of the vein and travels through the bloodstream, it can get stuck in an artery of the lung, preventing oxygenated blood from reaching the rest of the body in what is known as a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that can lead to chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fainting, or even death.
- Post-thrombotic syndrome. Damage done to the vein by a DVT can cause blood to pool, resulting in lasting pain and swelling, and sores on the site of the DVT.
- Limb ischemia. Occasionally, a severe DVT can block the flow of oxygen to the affected limb. Limb ischemia requires immediate medical attention to prevent the loss of the limb.