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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Caitlin's Story

DVT occurs when a large blood clot forms in the arms or legs. Unexplained pain, swelling, or redness in an arm or leg could be a sign of this serious condition. Caught early, DVT can be safely treated by a health care provider. Untreated, it can be life-threatening.

Caitlin's Story

Watch Caitlin's Story on Video

Photo: Caitlin

From the, "This Is Serious" campaign.

My name is Caitlin Augustine. I was diagnosed with a DVT when I was 18 years old during my freshman year of college. I actually had started noticing my symptoms when I was about 12 years old and having chronic pelvic pain, but because of my age they dismissed it as ovarian issues and immediately put me on birth control. After a routine tonsillectomy I was home on bed rest for about a week. About 2 weeks prior to my official diagnosis, I started experiencing pain that felt like a pulled muscle. When it started radiating down my leg doctors dismissed it as sciatica. Eventually the pain was so intense that I was unable to get out of bed. It felt like the lower left side of my body was on fire. My parents told me we really needed to get to the doctor.

We learned that it was DVT. At the time we had no idea what that meant. It was like a foreign language to us. The doctors had me on blood thinners but they didn't know if I would make it through the night. It was a tough time for my family and me. It was a relief to finally educate myself and find out all the information about DVT. I think that's when the healing process truly started. Knowing that DVT was something I would have to live with for the rest of my life, but it was manageable. As long as I'm alive that's all that matters.

Can DVT Happen to Me?

Photo: Doctor with patientAnyone may be at risk for DVT but the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing DVT.

Knowing your risk factors can help you prevent DVT:

  • 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 6 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 6 to 8 hours)

Pain and swelling telling you something? Take matters into your own hands. Unexplained pain, swelling, or redness in one of your arms or legs could be a sign of DVT. Caught early, DVT can be safely treated by your health care provider.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of DVT.

Research and Treatment Centers

CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities supports the Thrombosis and Hemostasis Centers Research and Prevention Network to foster collaborative epidemiologic research designed to identify risks for DVT among the U.S. population and ultimately to improve diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. The centers collect data from patients of all ages and races while providing services to patients with DVT and other related conditions. Currently, CDC funds five centers. These centers have multidisciplinary teams of health care specialists and state-of-the-art clinical research programs that provide outreach and education programs for patients.

Find a treatment center.

More Information

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Page last reviewed: March 5, 2012
  • Page last updated: March 5, 2012
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication