What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that occurs in a vein within the body — most commonly in the large veins of the thigh or lower leg.
Newly formed blood clots can break loose and travel to the heart or lungs. When a clot blocks the blood flow to the lungs, it causes a pulmonary embolism that can be fatal.
A DVT that goes unnoticed or untreated may lead to:
Causes of DVT
Blood clots may form when something slows or changes the flow of blood in the veins.
A DVT may occur spontaneously or result from a prior condition or treatment, such as:
- Certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or other genetic defects in blood clotting
- Surgery — most often hip, knee, bariatric, or female pelvic surgery
- Trauma, such as fractures in the pelvis or legs
- Bed rest or sitting in one position for too long during car or plane travel
DVTs are most common in people over age 60. But, they can occur at any age.
Other factors that can increase your risk for DVT include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Genetic predisposition to or family history of blood clots
- Giving birth within the last 6 months
Learn More About DVT Risks
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From our Health Library at UPMC.com