Skip to Content

Venous Thromboembolism


A venous thromboembolism (VTE) is when a blood clot (thrombus) has formed in a vein. A VTE can form anywhere in your body and block blood flow. A VTE in the deep veins in the legs, thighs, pelvis, or arms is called a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). If a blood clot breaks loose, it can travel to your lungs and cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE). You may need treatment to prevent or to treat a VTE.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You have a severe headache or a seizure.
  • You cough up blood.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have sudden abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your nose bleeds or you have a bloody nose.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • Your bowel movements are dark or have blood in them.
  • You have a sore or skin changes under your compression stocking or sleeve.
  • You have a sore on your leg that does not heal.
  • You have more bruises than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent a VTE. These medicines may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily.
    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. If you shave, use an electric razor. Avoid activities that can cause bruising or bleeding.
    • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take because many medicines cannot be used with anticoagulants. Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • You will need regular blood tests so your healthcare provider can decide how much medicine you need. Take anticoagulants exactly as directed. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
    • If you take warfarin, some foods can change how your blood clots. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, and other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you take warfarin.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Compression stockings or sleeves:

Compression devices put pressure on your arms or legs to increase blood flow and decrease swelling. Your healthcare provider will measure your arm or leg to make sure you have the right size. Wear them as directed. Remove your stockings daily to clean your skin and look for sores, blisters, or color changes. Ask for more information about how to care for and use compression stockings.

Prevent a VTE:

  • Manage other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Stay active. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. When you travel by car or plane, take breaks to stand up and move around as much as possible. Rotate your feet in circles often if you sit for a long period of time. This will help increase your blood flow.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk for a VTE. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Venous Thromboembolism (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes