Back to Top Skip to main content

Deep vein thrombosis: What you need to know

Jamia Bailey (center) with her parents, James and Pia, after she underwent a procedure in December at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, to help prevent deep vein thrombosis from recurring. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body. (Courtesy photo)  Jamia Bailey (center) with her parents, James and Pia, after she underwent a procedure in December at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, to help prevent deep vein thrombosis from recurring. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body. (Courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Preventive Health | Heart Health | Physical Activity

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Military Health System beneficiary Jamia Bailey plays three sports at Yokota High School in Fussa, Japan. She spends long hours traveling with her teammates to competitions at schools eight and even 10 hours away. When her left leg became swollen and painful one morning during class, a trip to the school nurse’s office and then to the urgent care clinic on Yokota Air Base schooled Bailey on deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.

DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body. It usually occurs in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis.

“Blood clots naturally form in our body after injury to prevent blood loss through the blood vessel wall,” said Air Force Col. Jay Sampson, a board-certified vascular surgeon at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

“We also have a natural process to stop clot formation and then to break down the clot,” he said. “DVT occurs when something goes wrong with this clotting process.”

As many as 900,000 Americans may be affected by DVT each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, the CDC said, about half will have long-term complications, including swelling and pain. Additionally, about 33 percent will have a DVT recurrence within 10 years.

DVT is particularly dangerous if part of the clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. This causes a pulmonary embolism, or PE, which prevents blood from reaching the lungs. According to the CDC, from 60,000 to 100,000 people die each year from PE.

“Numerous risk factors can help identify who might be at risk for DVT,” Sampson said. “But in the medical community, we tend to think of it as, everyone’s at risk.”

Risk factors include being obese, older, or confined to bed because of illness or disease, Sampson said. But even young and fit people can be at risk when they’re immobile for long periods of time. NBC television journalist David Bloom was 39 when he died of PE in April 2003 while covering the Iraq War. Bloom had spent long hours inside cramped armored vehicles.

Pregnant women up to six weeks after childbirth, and women who take oral contraceptives that include estrogen, also have an increased risk of DVT, Sampson said. Changes in hormone levels and blood composition may affect the normal clotting process. Also, blood flow in the legs may be reduced because of the fetus pressing on the veins.

Swelling and pain are two symptoms of DVT. But some people don’t experience any symptoms at all, Sampson said.

The signs and symptoms of PE include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and coughing up blood. But sudden death, like Bloom’s, is the first symptom in about 25 percent of people with PE, according to the CDC.

Bailey went to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii for treatment with dad James, a retired Navy senior chief petty officer, and mom Pia, a Department of Defense Education Activity elementary school teacher.

“Jamia was predisposed to getting DVT because she has May-Thurner syndrome, and the long periods of immobility during bus rides were a contributing factor,” said Dr. Brian Ching, an interventional radiologist at Tripler.

May-Thurner is a rare condition in which an artery compresses a vein in the pelvis. Bailey had minor surgery to remove the blood clots; a stent was inserted into the compressed vein to keep it open. She’s now taking a blood thinner to reduce the risk of DVT recurring.

“A blood thinner prevents the clot from getting bigger,” Sampson said. “It also stabilizes the clot to reduce the risk of it traveling to the pulmonary artery. That’s the pulmonary embolism we worry about.”

Bailey said she can’t play soccer while she’s taking a blood thinner because any head trauma could cause bleeding in the brain. Otherwise, she’s resumed her normal activities. Her goal is to play basketball next year for Chaminade University in Hawaii.

“I really appreciate the doctors and nurses who helped me get through that rough part of my life,” she said.

Sampson and other experts offer the following tips to reduce risk of DVT:

  • Move around as soon as recommended after being confined to bed for surgery, illness, or injury.
  • Stretch your legs every few hours during long periods of immobility, including during air travel. Wear loose-fitting clothing and perhaps even compression socks, which prevent pooling of blood in the legs.
  • Seek medical help immediately for swelling and pain in the legs or arms. “The next step would be an ultrasound test to diagnose,” Sampson said.

You also may be interested in...

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Infographic
3/20/2019
Sexually Transmitted Infections

This report summarizes incidence rates of the 5 most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among active component service members of the U.S. Armed Forces during 2010–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Infographic
3/20/2019
Testosterone Replacement Therapy

With the increasing number of testosterone deficiency diagnoses and potential health risks associated with initiation of TRT, it is important to understand the epidemiology of which U.S. service men are receiving TRT and whether these individuals have an indication for receiving treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Vasectomy

Infographic
3/20/2019
Vasectomy

There are few published studies of vasectomy and vasectomy reversal among the U.S. military population. To address these gaps, the current analysis describes the overall and annual incidence rates of vasectomy among active component service men during 2000–2017 by demographic and military characteristics and by type of surgical vas isolation procedure ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Male Infertility

Infographic
3/20/2019
Male Infertility

The current report updates and expands on the findings of the previous MSMR analysis of infertility among active component service men. Specifically, the current report summarizes the frequencies, rates, temporal trends, types of infertility, and demographic and military characteristics of infertility among active component service men during 2013–2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Sudden cardiac death in young athletes

Article
3/7/2019
High school basketball requires skill and rigorous training. In rare but highly publicized cases, it can also bring cardiac issues to the surface. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Gannon)

Sudden cardiac events can occur in seemingly healthy young people in their teens or twenties, including young servicemembers

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

Too much pressure: Hypertension a leading cause of heart disease

Article
3/5/2019
Navy Lt. Xin Wu, a nurse from Expeditionary Medical Facility Bethesda in Maryland, checks a patient's blood pressure at a health care clinic set up by the Air Guard and Navy Reserve at a high school in Beattyville, Kentucky. The clinic was part of a mission to train military medical personnel while offering free health care to Eastern Kentucky residents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Healthy lifestyle now can help prevent disorder later

Recommended Content:

Heart Health

Adenovirus

Infographic
3/1/2019
Adenovirus

During August–September 2016, U.S. Naval Academy clinical staff noted an increase in students presenting with acute respiratory illness (ARI). An investigation was conducted to determine the extent and cause of the outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Glaucoma

Infographic
3/1/2019
Glaucoma

This report describes an analysis using the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify all active component service members with an incident diagnosis of glaucoma during the period between 2013 and 2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Malaria

Infographic
3/1/2019
Malaria

Since 1999, the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report has published regular updates on the incidence of malaria among U.S. service members. The MSMR’s focus on malaria reflects both historical lessons learned about this mosquito-borne disease and the continuing threat that it poses to military operations and service members’ health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 3 - March 2019

Report
3/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2017; Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 October 2001– ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Focus on heart-healthy diet is perfect fit for February

Article
2/22/2019
Changing your eating habits doesn't have to be drastic to be effective. When registered dietitians and other health professional talk about a "heart-healthy" diet, it generally means to increase the amount of fiber in one's diet, reduce saturated fats and reduce salt. (DoD photo)

With the typical American diet and lifestyle, many people put themselves at risk for developing various heart diseases

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Nutrition

Taking care of your heart with TRICARE benefits

Article
2/19/2019
February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, a time for the Department of Defense community to show its love for healthy living.

Getting preventive screenings now could save your life tomorrow

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Preventive Health

The simple – and complicated – task of shoveling snow

Article
2/5/2019
Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Seifridsberger shovels knee-deep snow to build a simulated hasty firing position during training exercise Ready Force Breach at Fort Drum, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrew Carroll)

When in the throes of winter weather, there are ways to prepare for a successful, injury-free snow shoveling activity

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Reserve Health Readiness Program | Health Readiness | Physical Activity

Stroke prevention awareness

Article
2/4/2019
Stroke prevention awareness graphic (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 2 - February 2019

Report
2/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2017; Cardiovascular disease-related medical evacuations, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 October 2001– ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 27

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.