Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common but under-diagnosed medical condition that occurs when a thrombus (blood clot) forms in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation. A deep-vein thrombus (blood clot) is an intravascular deposit that is composed of fibrin and red blood cells with a variable platelet and leukocyte component.
Deep-vein thrombosis occurs when a thrombus forms (usually in regions of slow or disturbed blood flow) in one of the large veins, usually in the lower limbs, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation.
People with a DVT may notice pain and swelling in the leg where the clot has formed, though smaller clots may not cause any symptoms. The major problem occurs when a part of the clot breaks off and flows to the lungs. This condition, called a Pulmonary Embolus (PE), can cause severe injury or death. Pulmonary embolism can occur when a fragment of a blood clot breaks loose from the wall of the vein and migrates to the lungs, where it blocks a pulmonary artery or one of its branches. When that clot is large enough to completely block one or more vessels that supply the lungs with blood, it can result in sudden death.
Deep-vein thrombosis and PE are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Every year, an estimated 200,000 up to 600,000 Americans will suffer from deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Deep-vein thrombosis and PE are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). For the 60,000 to 200,000 individuals who develop PE, their condition will be fatal. In the United States, more people die each year from PE than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS. According to a survey conducted by the American Public Health Association, 74 percent of Americans are unaware of deep vein thrombosis
The condition has been erroneously dubbed Economy Class Syndrome by some people because of the perception that passengers in the more restrictive coach or economy class of the aircraft are more likely to develop DVTs. Recent research, however, has found that passengers in any seating class of the aircraft may develop a DVT. Research indicates that any situation where one's activity is limited for long periods - a long automobile drive or train ride, for instance - may contribute to a DVT. For this reason, the term Traveler's Thrombosis is more appropriate.
Further Information on Deep-Vein Thrombosis
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2009