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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis -- a blood clot in a deep vein -- may be difficult to identify. That's because DVT symptoms are similar to many other health problems.

If you're at risk for DVT -- you are over 60, you smoke, you are overweight, you sit for long periods of time -- stay alert to DVT symptoms. If you have symptoms, learn what you can do to confirm a diagnosis.

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How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Preventing a deep vein thrombosis, also known as a DVT, is vital. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs most commonly, but can also occur in the veins of the upper extremities. That's because the blood clot, which usually forms in a calf or thigh deep veins, can partially or completely block blood flow back to the heart and cause damage to the one-way valves in the veins. The clot can also break free and travel through your blood to major organs, such as your lungs -- which...

Read the How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) article > >

 

What is DVT?

DVT is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in a calf or thigh muscle. DVT can partly or completely block blood flow, causing chronic pain and swelling. It may damage valves in blood vessels, making it difficult for you to get around. A blood clot can also break free and travel through your blood to major organs, such as your lungs or heart. There, it can cause damage and even death within hours.

Signs and Symptoms of DVT

Half of all DVT cases cause no symptoms. If you do have any of the DVT symptoms below -- especially if they occur suddenly -- call your doctor right away:

  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Pain or tenderness in one or both legs, which may occur only while standing or walking
  • Warmth in the skin of the affected leg
  • Red or discolored skin in the affected leg
  • Visible surface veins
  • Leg fatigue

If a blood clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, it's called a pulmonary embolism, and it can be fatal. Pulmonary embolism may not cause symptoms, but if you ever suffer sudden coughing, which may bring up blood; sharp chest pain; rapid breathing or shortness of breath; or severe lightheadedness, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.

Diagnosing DVT

To diagnose DVT, your doctor will ask about your health, medical history, and symptoms, as well as perform a physical exam. However, because DVT symptoms are shared by many other conditions, you may need one or more special tests to rule out other problems or to confirm a diagnosis. These tests to diagnose DVT may include:

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