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.
DVT is a blood clot that forms deep in your veins, most often in your leg. It can partially or completely block blood flow back to the heart and damage the one-way valves in your veins. It can also break free and travel to major organs, such as your lungs, which can be very dangerous. About 1 in 10 people die from DVT complications.
About 350,000 Americans are diagnosed with these blood clots each year, and almost as many have them and don't know it. Even if you're at risk, you can take steps...
“[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.