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Published on November 11, 2014

Deep venous thrombosis is quiet, potentially deadly

By Aynsley Anderson, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Estimates suggest that 60,000-100,000 people die of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) a year. DVT is deadly but can be treated or prevented with proper diagnosis and prompt treatment. In this article we will outline the signs, symptoms and risk factors.

Dale Denning, MD LMH Vein Center You also can personally hear from physician Dale Denning from Lawrence Vein Center. He will be presenting “Deep Venous Thrombosis: Can I Decrease the Risk?” at LMH’s Senior Supper and Seminar on Nov. 18.

Each month, LMH Community Education and LMH Dining Services (Unidine) offer a delicious three-course supper and a health seminar. Reservations are required for the meal 24 hours in advance. The cost is $5.50 for the meal, but the presentation is free. The supper is at 5 p.m. and the presentation at 6 p.m. Call ConnectCare at 785-749-5800 to reserve your space.

What is DVT?

This condition occurs when there is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. It usually appears in the leg or thigh but can happen elsewhere. The danger with these blood clots is that when a portion breaks off and becomes lodged in the lungs it causes a blockage called a pulmonary embolism (PE). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that if the clot is small and appropriately treated, people can recover. However, there could be some damage to the lungs. If the clot is large, it can stop blood from reaching the lungs and is fatal.

Signs and symptoms

If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms for DVT or PE, seek medical care. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute says that if left untreated these signs and symptoms can cause serious medical issues and may even be life-threatening.

Only about half of the people who have DVT have signs and symptoms. These signs and symptoms occur in the leg affected by the deep vein clot. They include:

  • Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking
  • Increased warmth in the area of the leg that's swollen or painful
  • Red or discolored skin on the leg

Some people aren't aware of a deep vein clot until they have signs and symptoms of PE. Signs and symptoms of PE include:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain with deep breathing
  • Coughing up blood

Risk factors

Knowing the risk factors for DVT can help save a life. Talk to a healthcare professional if you have these common risk factors outlined by the CDC:

  • Hospitalization for a medical illness
  • Recent major surgery or injury
  • Personal history of a clotting disorder or previous DVT
  • Increasing age
  • Cancer and cancer treatments
  • Pregnancy and the first six weeks after delivery
  • Hormone replacement therapy or birth control products
  • Family history of DVT
  • Extended bed rest
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged sitting when traveling (longer than six to eight hours)

Visit for tips to help prevent DVT, to find out how DVT is treated and to read about three women’s experience with DVT.

Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at

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