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How to tell if you have DVT?

by – March 20, 2023

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. If left untreated, it can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, where the blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks blood flow.

A Diagram showing formation of DVT

Knowing whether or not you have a DVT is crucial because it can help you receive timely medical treatment and prevent serious complications. Here are some reasons why you should know if you have a DVT:

Early diagnosis

By diagnosis DVT early, you can prevent any serious complications that can arise from it. When left untreated, the blood clot can break off and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This can be fatal in some cases. By knowing whether or not you have DVT, you can receive prompt medical treatment to prevent the clot from  potentially causing  serious problems.

If you have had a DVT in the past, knowing that you are at increased risk for recurrence can help you take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Awareness of risk factors can help prevent DVT

Knowing your risk factors for DVT can help you take steps to prevent it from occurring. Some risk factors include being overweight or obese, having a family history of blood clots, smoking, and sitting for long periods of time. By being aware of these risk factors and taking preventative measures, you can reduce your risk of developing a DVT.

Warning signs of a DVT

The possible symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis can include:

  • Painful, or tender leg for no obvious reason – can be above knee, below knee or both
  • Swelling of ankle, ankle and calf, ankle, calf and thigh or even the whole leg
  • A heavy ache in the leg – especially on standing or walking
  • Warm skin in area of swelling
  • Sometimes the skin can be a bit redder, but this is less common

DVT usually affects one leg, however it can rarely affect both.

In about half of patients, there are no symptoms or ‘warning signs’ and a DVT is only diagnosed if a complication occurs.


If you are uncertain as to whether you’re suffering from DVT or any other venous condition, it is vital that you go and see a venous specialist as soon as possible so they can carry out a duplex ultrasound scan and advise on treatment.

In many Emergency Departments, a blood test called a D-Dimer test is performed, and if positive heparin is given whilst a duplex scan is organised. However, if a duplex ultrasound scan can be performed soon, this blood test is not needed.

If DVT is diagnosed and treated immediately, in the majority of cases the clot will be dissolved, and the vein will return to normal. If three is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, or if there are recurrent DVTs in the same leg, the deep veins can stop working properly. This causes “post-thrombotic syndrome” (PTS) which can cause chronic pain and swelling of the leg, with discolouration and often leg ulcers.

However, with very severe cases, the clot may have to be removed under X-ray control, although this is a very uncommon procedure currently.

It is also important to know why the clot has formed. This can be due to varicose veins, a compression in the veins, changes in the blood (dehydration, smoking and some drugs) or blood flow. It could even be a sign of other disease including abnormal blood clotting. Long flights and immobility are also contributory factors.

After the DVT has been diagnosed and treated, it is essential to look for the underlying cause and treat it, to reduce the risks of further DVTs in the future.

If you are concerned that you have DVT and would like to book a consultation please call The Whiteley Clinic on 0330 058 1850 or contact us by clicking here.

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your doctor or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site and the information provided is not a substitute for medical advice.