Frequently Asked Questions for Deep Vein Thrombosis

Can Pulmonary embolism (PE) occur without deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Though unlikely, it is very rare to primarily develop clot within the lung circulation. PE and DVT are often seen together as one process. If PE is diagnosed and no DVT can be identified, this either means that the entire clot has migrated up to the lungs or it resides somewhere else inside your body and it cannot be identified.

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If I have had a deep vein thrombosis, am I at a greater risk of getting another one?

About 3 out of 10 people who have had a DVT orpulmonary embolism,will have another event within 10 years of the first. This is most likely during the first two years afterwards, and your risk of developing DVT decreases over time.

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Can I exercise while being treated, or will that cause the clot to move toward my lungs?

Deep vein thrombosis is not a contraindication for activity; neither during the acute period nor later on. During the acute period (starting from day one) the patient can move around and walk as tolerated, excessive exercise though is not recommended and may otherwise not be tolerated due to pain or swelling.

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What does heparin and warfarin do?

Although anticoagulants like heparin and warfarin do not remove the existing clots, they may keep them from growing, while your body fights the clot. This will subsequently control the acute symptoms, prevent a major pulmonary embolism and reduce the severity of post-thrombotic syndrome (leg swelling, heaviness, leg ulcers).

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What if I can’t take blood thinners, or the clot is really big?

If you can't take blood thinners, your doctor may recommend surgical placement of a vena cava filter -- a tiny umbrella-like device -- inside the vein above the clot. It can catch a dislodged clot within the vein and keep it from traveling to your lungs.

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vascular health

Vascular Surgeon

Dr. Efthymios (Makis) Avgerinos is a Vascular Surgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in USA.


Scientific Editing

Efthymios D. Avgerinos, MD, PhD, FEBVS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center Pennsylvania, USA