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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Blood clot in a deep vein in the body

HCA UK's experts can help to diagnose and treat a range of vascular conditions, including DVT

About

DVT (deep vein thrombosis) occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein (a large vein that runs through the muscles of your thigh and calf). They commonly develop in your leg, arm or pelvis. As a result, your limb can become swollen and painful and the blood clot can enter your blood stream, leading to further serious complications.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of DVT icon plus

    Each year DVT occurs in about 1 in every 1000 people and it is more common in those aged over 40.

    The most common symptoms of DVT are:
    • pain and swelling in your leg (most commonly experienced in the calf)
    • skin that is hot to the touch
    • skin redness

    If left untreated, DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism (PE). Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition where a piece of the blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a blockage and leading to breathlessness, chest pain and sudden collapse.

    Both conditions require urgent attention and can be life-threatening.
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    DVT is most common in people who have a family history of blood clots, have certain existing conditions such as cancer or have a weight issue.  Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and may recommend the following tests:
    • D-dimer test. This is a special blood test to detect loose pieces of blood clot in your blood stream.
    • Ultrasound. This is a scan to detect blood clots in your veins and how fast blood is flowing through a blood vessel.
    • Venogram. This involves injecting a liquid called contrast dye into your foot. The dye will then travel up your leg and an x-ray will show the location of any blood clots.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options for DVT depend on the extent of your condition, whether any blood clots have entered your bloodstream and your general overall health. These may include anticoagulant medicines, which will thin your blood and make it less likely to develop clots. They are either taken as tablets or delivered via injections. If you have a pulmonary embolism (PE), you will be given anticoagulant medicine injections for up to five days. Anticoagulant tablets will then need to be taken for at least three months afterwards.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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