FAQs: Must know facts about clots

Get an overview of DVT and PE and find quick answers

What do DVT and PE refer to?

When a blood clot develops in one of the veins located deep within the body, it is referred to as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. If the clot (known as a thrombus) is not dissolved by the body, a piece can break loose and travel through the veins and onto the lungs. When this happens, the condition is called pulmonary embolism or PE.

What are the symptoms of DVT or PE?

DVT symptoms can range from unnoticeable to mild discomfort or even pain. If you experience any level of pain in one particular area, such as the legs or arms, be aware of DVT. The site may also be warm, tender, swollen or discoloured.

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism (PE) are very different. Watch for shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing and dizziness, or an irregular heartbeat. In some cases, people with PE cough up blood.

Is DVT or PE life threatening?

As DVT can potentially turn into PE it is very important to seek medical assistance. Early treatment is key to getting the situation under control as soon as possible in order to avoid a possible, life threatening PE. 

Who gets clots?

DVT can happen to anyone but certain types of cancer, chemotherapy agents or surgery can put you at risk of developing a blood clot. For more information about why cancer patients are at risk, consider taking a look here.

How does my life situation impact the risk?

One of the best ways to try and avoid DVT is to keep the blood moving through your veins. This is why surgery, bed rest or a general lack of movement can add to someone’s risk for developing DVT. One common suggestion is to avoid standing or sitting in the same position for extended periods of time during the day.

How is DVT treated?

DVT is often treated via an anticoagulant medicine, which works by prolonging the blood’s natural clotting process. Although the medicine itself does not dissolve the blood clot, this process prevents the clot from growing larger and allows the body to naturally dissolve the clot.

Can my clot come back?

People who have developed DVT in the past are at a higher risk for getting DVT again in the future1. Although the blood clot itself can be fully dissolved, there is always a risk of developing another.

Where can I find support?

The word support means different things to different people. If you are wondering how to ask for help from your friends and loved ones, consider taking a look here. 

Otherwise you can consider starting with these online resources, or Google for support groups in your area:

  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Thrombosis UK
  • Cancer Research
  • Macmillan UK
  • Irish cancer Society
  • Stop the Clot
  • References

    1. U.S Department of Health and Human Services 2008 “The surgeon general´s call to action to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism”.

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