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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Danger! Deep Vein Thrombosis

By Paige Fowler
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD

Four years ago, when Sara Wyen was 29, she joined her training group for a Saturday morning run. Afterward, her left knee starting hurting badly. “I struggled with a knee injury so I was used to that type of pain,” she says.

She treated it with rest, ice, and a hot shower, but her discomfort got worse. By Sunday morning Wyen couldn’t walk. She also had shortness of breath and pain in her side.

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

How to Choose and Use Compression Stockings

People wear compression stockings for comfort, to do better in sports, and to help prevent serious medical conditions. Basically, they improve your blood flow. They can lessen pain and swelling in your legs. They can also lower your chances of getting deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a kind of blood clot, and other circulation problems. They come in different sizes and strengths, so you or your doctor will need to decide which option will work best.

Read the How to Choose and Use Compression Stockings article > >

“I couldn’t speak in complete sentences,” she says. “I had to stop to catch my breath.” That’s when she knew something was very wrong.

Wyen called her doctor. He told her to go to the ER right away. There, she got news she never expected to hear: She had a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lung. It was caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in her leg.

What Is DVT?

“[It] occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins located deep in the middle of the leg,” says Jack Ansell, MD, professor of medicine at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. “It can also occur in other parts of the body, such as the arm or the abdomen, but the leg is the most common location. The major danger with DVT is what happens when a piece of the blood clot breaks off and travels to an artery in the lungs.”

When it blocks blood flow in the lungs it causes a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Fortunately for Wyen, doctors found the blood clot in her lung early enough to treat it.


During Wyen’s hospital stay, doctors learned the cause of her DVT. She has an autoimmune disease that increases her chances of getting blood clots.

She was also taking birth control pills that contained estrogen. This raised her risk, too.

A number of conditions can raise your odds of getting DVT. Some of them include:

1 | 2 | 3

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