Deep vein thrombosis is a serious but preventable medical condition in which blood clots occur, usually in veins in the lower leg, thigh, pelvis, and sometimes arms.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is treatable, but it can have serious complications. For this reason, it is important to seek medical care if symptoms appear.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is often associated with DVT. It usually happens when a part of a blood clot from a DVT breaks off from its original location in a vein and travels through the heart to the pulmonary arteries. This can result in damage to the lungs and other organs. It can be life-threatening.
DVT and PE can happen when the blood clot is in one of the deep veins, including those in the pelvis, thigh, or calf region.
Blood clots that form in veins closer to the skin’s surface, known as superficial venous thrombosis, typically do not result in a PE.
It is also possible to have a PE without DVT.
Your blood vessels –arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood and veins carrying blood back to the heart — are the roadways of your circulatory system. Without smoothly flowing blood, your body cannot function. Conditions such as hardening of the arteries can create “traffic jams” in your circulatory system, obstructing the flow of blood to any part of the body.
Most are familiar with heart disease and with the consequences of blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. But few people realize that blockages caused by a buildup of plaque and cholesterol affect more than coronary arteries. Arteries throughout the body carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, so blockages can occur in all arteries with serious effects.
Vascular surgeons manage veins and arteries in every part of the body except the brain and the heart.
For example, vascular surgeons handle blocked carotid arteries in the neck. They treat the problems of the aorta (a large main artery) after it leaves the heart and enters the abdomen. Peripheral vascular disease, which often affects the arteries in the legs and feet, also is treated by a vascular surgeon.
Typically, patients are referred to a vascular surgeon by their primary care physician. Sometimes patients become acquainted with a vascular surgeon after an unexpected event lands them in the hospital. You might be referred to a vascular surgeon if you see your regular doctor for pain in your legs, and learn that you have peripheral arterial disease, for example. If you are in a high risk category: are a smoker, diabetic, and/or have high blood pressure, you may be a candidate for starting a relationship with a vascular surgeon.
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