Danger! Deep Vein Thrombosis
Could you have a life-threatening blood clot?
DVT: Symptoms and Warning Signs
The classic symptoms of DVT, which are confined to the affected area,
typically the lower leg, include:
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
But unfortunately, about half of the time, deep vein thrombosis has no
symptoms at all. Or it may have uncommon symptoms. Often, the first symptom is
pulmonary embolism, when a blood clot breaks off and moves into the lungs.
Typical symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid pulse
- Feeling of apprehension
- Sharp chest pain that worsens when you breath deeply
- Low blood pressure
- Coughing up blood
One DVT Survivor's Story
Sherry Wilcox knows that deep vein thrombosis can have unusual symptoms. In
July 2003, at the age of 38, Wilcox went to a Georgia hospital with intense
pain in her chest and back. Doctors ran tests and assured her that she was
Two weeks later, Wilcox collapsed in the middle of a meeting. She spent the
next few months in and out of the hospital, yet her doctors were still stumped.
In desperation, she agreed to her gynecologist's recommendation to get a
hysterectomy. It didn't help.
It was only three months after her first trip to the hospital that Wilcox
finally was diagnosed with DVT, once she finally showed the typical symptoms.
The blood flow was so blocked that her leg swelled up by four inches and turned
Wilcox has a degree in nursing and she knew about deep vein thrombosis. But
she never considered that she might have it.
"I didn't have the typical symptoms," she tells WebMD. "DVT is just not the
first thing you think of with a 38-year old person."
By the time she was diagnosed, the clot was so large that it extended from
the veins in her knee to within an inch of her heart. The grim irony of her
story is that every medical intervention -- which included multiple
hospitalizations -- was leaving her more inactive and probably worsening her