All About

Venous ThromoboEmbolism (VTE) - DVT or PE



DVT symptoms (usually affects only one leg at a time)

Swelling of the leg

Pain or tenderness in the leg, often similar to the symptoms of a muscle cramp (or injury) that does not resolve

Increased warmth in the area 

Red or discolored skin 

PE symptoms include:

Shortness of breath

Fast heart rate or breathing

Chest pain, made worse by taking a deep breath or coughing

Coughing up blood

Feeling lightheaded or fainting


DVT can occur for several reasons, including damage to a vein, such as from a fracture or surgery, or slow blood flow, such as from lying in bed or sitting for long periods like a long flight. Other risk factors include:

Being pregnant

Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement for menopause

Being overweight

Having cancer

Having an inherited condition that increases your tendency to form clots or decreases your ability to dissolve them

More about Treatment


Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is an umbrella term that includes two conditions: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in your body. It happens most often in the lower leg or thigh but can happen in other parts of the body as well. 

To diagnose venous thromboembolism, your doctor will examine you and ask about your health history and family history. You will have blood tests to check your clotting activity, and you may need an imaging test, such as an ultrasound of your leg for DVT or a computed tomography (CT) scan of your lungs for PE.

Venous thromboembolism treatment

Both DVT and PE are serious conditions that can damage your lungs and other organs. They need medical treatment right away.

The usual treatment is anti-clotting medicine (anticoagulants) — such as heparin given by injection or taken in tablet form. Doctors can also give medicines that dissolve clots (thrombolytics) into your bloodstream or even directly into a clot. Some people need surgery in order to inject medicine into a clot, remove a clot or place a filter in a vein to keep clots from reaching the lungs.

After the first few months of treatment for DVT or PE, the decision about whether to continue anti-clotting medicine can be complex. Venous thromboembolism experts at SCCA can provide information and advice to help you decide about ongoing treatment.

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