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Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clots)

Doctor comforting patientAre you at risk? Learn the signs and symptoms and read about one man’s personal experience with the condition.

Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (PE) are serious but preventable medical conditions caused by blood clots that form in a vein. It is important to know about DVT because it can happen to anyone at any age and can cause serious illness, disability, and in some cases, death. The good news is that these types of blood clots are preventable and treatable if discovered early.

Know the Signs and Symptoms

About half of people with DVT have no signs or symptoms at all. The following are the most common signs and symptoms of DVT that occur in the affected part of the body:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness of the skin

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Tips to Protect Yourself

The following tips can help prevent DVT:

  • Move around as soon as possible after having been confined to bed, such as after surgery, illness, or injury
  • If you’re at risk for DVT, talk to your doctor about:
    • Compression devices, especially if you are in the hospital
    • Medication (anticoagulants) to prevent DVT
  • When sitting for long periods of time, such as when traveling for more than four hours:
    • Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours
    • Exercise your legs while you’re sitting by
      • Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
      • Raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor
    • Tightening and releasing your leg muscles
    • Wearing loose-fitting clothes
  • You can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and following your doctor’s recommendations based on your individual risks.
Justin and Roxy

Justin Lushbaugh and his dog Roxy.

Justin’s Story

My name is Justin Lushbaugh, and my story about blood clots goes back to July of 2010. It all started one morning, when upon waking, I noticed a strange pain in my right calf muscle. I noticed a circular red mark that looked like a rash on my calf. I took a few steps – each step met with a painful, nagging feeling. Though it hurt, I figured since I only had one class that day, I could tough it out – so I went to school.

When I arrived at class, I sat through a three-hour lecture, not moving from my seat even once. After the class concluded, I stood up for the first time since arriving, and the pain from my leg was intense! It literally felt as if my leg was going to explode. I was advised to go to Student Health Services where I could see a physician’s assistant (PA).

After walking about a mile to Student Health Services, I was seen by several PAs who all suggested a blood clot diagnosis. Unfortunately, diagnostic equipment wasn’t available to confirm, so the team of PAs urged me to go to the nearest emergency room (ER) to get checked out as soon as possible.

To continue reading Justin’s story and other personal stories about people who have faced blood clots, please visit CDC’s Flickr® album.