What Are DVT and PE?

I had DVT and I didn't even know it. I never felt a thing until I woke up with pain on the left side of my chest. An x-ray of my chest showed I had a blood clot in my lung.”

— Jody

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when an abnormal blood clot forms in one of the large veins of your lower leg, thigh or pelvis. Because these clots prevent or restrict normal blood flow, DVTs can be fatal if left untreated.

However, if they’re diagnosed and treated early enough, most DVTs are not life-threatening. Problem is, most people don’t know their risks, don’t know the symptoms, and often put off seeing their health care provider even when they feel pain.

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is a serious, life-threatening complication of DVT. A PE happens when part or all of a blood clot breaks free and travels through the bloodstream into the arteries of the lungs.

PE can cause chronic shortness of breath from increased lung artery pressures (“pulmonary hypertension”). PE can also impair heart muscle function, especially in the right ventricle, which supplies blood to the lungs. Either one of these conditions can be fatal.