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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.



  • Anticoagulants reduce the risk of a clot breaking free and traveling to your lungs. Over time, this medicine can help your body dissolve a clot. It is also used to prevent a new clot. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Fibrinolytics are used to break up a blood clot.


  • Blood tests will show if you have a blood clot. Healthcare providers also use blood tests to measure how long it takes your blood to clot.
  • An ultrasound, x-ray, CT, or MRI is used to find the location of the blood clot. You may be given contrast dye to help your blood vessels show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.


  • 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.
  • Surgery may be done to place a filter in your vein to keep a DVT from going to your lungs. Surgery may also be done to remove the clot.


A VTE increases your risk for damage to the valves in the veins of your arms or legs. This can cause long-term pain, swelling, and sores. A VTE can also cause a PE, which could damage your lungs or lead to heart failure. A PE can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.