When you have had an operation or are acutely ill it is normal for the blood to become thicker and stickier. This is a natural response that ensures that wounds or areas of inflammation do not bleed excessively. But this makes it easier for a clot to form in the deep veins of the leg resulting in a DVT.
DVT is a potentially serious complication because a fragment of the blood clot can break off and become lodged in the lung (Pulmonary Embolism, or PE) and affect breathing. Sometimes the fragment is large enough to cause death. In the longer term, the blood clot can damage the vein and can lead to leg ulcers that may be difficult to treat.
The circumstances in which a clot is most likely to occur are when:
The risk of deep vein thrombosis can be greatly minimised by:
Who is at risk?
Anyone can develop a DVT. The time you are most at risk is after surgery or injury. Being overweight, a smoker and over 40 years of age also increases your risk. People whose veins have been damaged are more at risk. This can happen in pregnancy and at childbirth, or through injury or surgery. You should tell your nurse or doctor if any of the following applies to you:
• Taking the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement