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Deep Vein Thrombosis - A Ticking Time Bomb

Author: American College of Emergency Physicians

Published: 2011-05-04

Synopsis and Key Points:

Emergency physicians issue warning about the serious dangers associated with deep vein thrombosis.

Main Digest

As temperatures warm and travel picks up around the country, the nation's emergency physicians issue a warning about the serious dangers associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT is a condition occurring when blood clots form in a vein located in a person's lower leg and thigh.

"DVT is very dangerous and can do severe damage to a person's body and if the clot breaks off and travels to the lung, it can be fatal," said Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Basically, when a blood clot breaks loose in the vein and begins moving through a person's bloodstream, it becomes an embolism, which is a mass that can get stuck in the lung depriving the body of oxygen."

Many remember the high-profile NBC News anchor David Bloom, who in 2003 died suddenly from DVT and a pulmonary embolism while he was covering the war in Iraq. More recently, tennis star Serena Williams was treated for a blood clot that was in her lung.

Fast facts about DVT:

What are the symptoms of DVT

"If you have any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor or visit your local emergency department," said Dr. Schneider. "Put it this way "think of DVT as a ticking time bomb in your body and at any moment, it could go off unless it is diagnosed and properly treated." The tendency to form blood clots is in some cases hereditary. If several of your family members have DVT, you should mention that to your doctor.

What causes DVT

Many factors can cause or contribute to DVT. According to the National Institute of Health, the most common ones include:

How can you prevent DVT

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

For more information on DVT or other health-related topics, please go to

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