Blood Clots

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideDeep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What types of conditions are caused by blood clots (DVT and pulmonary embolism)?

Blood clots may cause life-threatening medical conditions, and may be considered in the differential diagnosis of any symptoms or signs. Differential diagnosis is the list of potential causes of a patient's condition, which is considered by the health-care professional when caring for a patient and listening to them describe their signs and symptoms.

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) may lead to a pulmonary embolism.If there is a blood clot or thrombus in a deep vein of the leg or arm, it has the potential to break off (embolize) and flow through the veins toward the heart, and into the lung where it can become lodged in a pulmonary artery, which prevents the lung from functioning. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and can cause serious illness or death.

An embolus is the medical term for a blood clot that has moved within the bloodstream to a different location. With pulmonary embolus (pulmonary embolism), two issues occur.

  1. The lungs' blood supply is comprised and the affected area of lung tissue may infarct, or die.
  2. Because of the blockage, the ability of the lung to provide oxygen to the body is decreased and hypoxia (decreased levels of oxygen in the blood and throughout the body) may occur.

Even if venous blood clots do not embolize, they may cause significant local problems with swelling and pain. Since blood cannot return to the heart if a vein is blocked by a clot, the limbs may chronically swell and have decreased function in a condition called chronic thrombophlebitis. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/27/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines. Chest. 2012;141(2_suppl):

Dzsheka MS, et al. Stroke and bleeding risk in atrial fibrillation. Clin Cardiol.2014, Oct, 37(10)

Medscape. Deep Vein Thrombosis and Thrombophlebitis.

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

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