What is DVT and PE?

Your blood flows through your body in blood vessels called veins and arteries. If there is damage to these vessels, for example if you cut yourself, the blood usually forms a plug or ‘clot’ to stop any bleeding.

However sometimes the blood’s clotting mechanism goes wrong and can form a blood clot in the veins. When this happens the clot is called a ‘thrombus’. If the clot is deep inside one of the veins it is called a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is more likely to happen if you are unwell and inactive or more inactive than usual.

Sometimes a clot can become loose and travel through the blood stream to your lungs. This is called a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and can potentially be fatal.

As you are in hospital and likely to be less mobile than usually due to your illness or an operation you may be at more risk of having a DVT. To reduce the risk of this you will be assessed to see if you are more likely than normal to get a DVT.

It is also important that we know all the medicines that you are taking.

What are the signs of DVT and PE?

  • Pain or swelling in your leg
  • The skin on your leg feels hot or discoloured (red, purple or blue), other than bruising around the area if you have had an operation
  • The veins near the surface of your legs appear larger than normal or you notice them more
  • You become short of breath
  • You feel pain in your chest or upper back
  • You cough up blood

What we d0 to reduce the risk of DVT

If you are at risk you may be given on of the following to reduce the risk of you developing a DVT.

Anti-embolism These are tight stockings which squeeze your feet and lower legs and thighs helping your blood to circulate around your legs more quickly. You may not be offered these if you have recently had a stroke, or if you have problems with the veins in your legs.

A medicine called an anti-coagulant which thins the blood and helps prevent clots from forming. This may be an injection just under the skin or a tablet. We will encourage you to mobilise as soon as you are able.

The staff should discuss the benefits and any risks with these treatments, but please ask the staff looking after you if you have any questions.

Last Modified: 10:10am 04/11/2020