Deep vein thrombosis

It is characterized by partial or complete obstruction of one or more veins of the deep circulation.

What is it

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a frequent disorder characterized by partial or complete obstruction of one or more veins of the deep circle of the lower extremities, pelvis or upper limbs.

That of the lower limbs is more frequent.

The obstruction is caused by a blood clot (thrombus), in most cases due to a slowing of blood flow.

Deep vein thrombosis is a very serious disease, since the thrombus can rupture and reach, through the bloodstream, the lungs.

The most dangerous complication of deep vein thrombosis can therefore occur in the lungs – pulmonary embolism.


In about 50 percent of cases, deep vein thrombosis has no particular symptoms. When they arise are:

  • pain and swelling in the legs and ankles (if localized to the lower limbs)
  • pain and swelling in the arms (if localized to the upper limbs, about 10% of cases)
  • dilation of superficial veins

Risk factors

The risk factors of deep vein thrombosis can be multiple. The main ones are:

Characteristics of the patient Be over 40 years of age

Be pregnant or in the puerperium

Being obese

Smoking cigarettes

Pathologies and surgical interventions Having or having suffered from a malignant tumor

Suffering from blood disorders that tend to favor coagulation processes

Suffering from heart failure

Suffering from diabetes

Having had a myocardial infarction

Having had a previous episode of venous thrombosis

Having a family history of deep vein thrombosis

Have had surgery, especially on the lower limbs or abdomen

Drug therapies Taking estrogen hormone therapy


When symptoms compatible with a deep vein thrombosis appear, to distinguish whether it is simple venous insufficiency or real DVT, the doctor generally prescribes a specialized examination: venous Doppler ultrasound of the lower limbs with compression technique.

Another useful test to rule out the diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis is the D-Dimer test.


To prevent deep vein thrombosis, it is necessary to partially modify one’s lifestyles in this sense:

  • wear comfortable clothes and shoes, which do not tighten
  • do physical exercises involving the lower limbs at least once a day
  • eliminate cigarette smoke
  • adopt a healthy and balanced diet
  • drink plenty of water, at least 1.5 liters a day, and minimize alcohol intake
  • during the hottest hours of the day avoid exposing your legs to the sun and, in winter, do not expose them to direct sources of heat (radiators, fireplaces)


The main treatment of deep vein thrombosis consists of anticoagulant therapy, in order to prevent thrombosis from spreading to other vessels and especially to prevent pulmonary embolism.

Heparin derivatives (low molecular weight heparin) are generally used at the beginning, until the current oral anticoagulant therapy, which must be taken at the same time, fails to be effective (after 5-7 days then).

At that point, injection therapy with low molecular weight heparins is discontinued.

The doctor may also prescribe elastic compression with adhesive bands all over the limb and, subsequently, heavy knee-high stockings.

This would facilitate the reduction of late post-thrombotic complications, among which the most disabling is chronic venous insufficiency.

In pregnancy the only pharmacological treatment allowed is that with heparin derivatives, because they do not cross the placenta.

Oral anticoagulants, on the other hand, pass it and can reach the fetus. Therefore they are contraindicated in this period.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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