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Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is when a clot (thrombus) forms in a deep vein (usually the legs). A DVT can occur at times when you may break a bone, have a major surgery (orthopedic, vascular, etc.) or if you are pregnant. There are other risk factors for developing a DVT and can include paralysis, confinement to a bed, birth control use, cancer and more.

Usually a DVT occurs in the legs. DVTs can also form in the arms. Once a DVT forms in the veins, it damages the veins and can cause long-term issues with swelling, pain, skin changes and recurrent thrombus. This aftermath is called post-thrombotic syndrome and can develop within the first 2-5 years after a DVT.

However, this can be prevented (by 50%) by wearing compression stockings after you are diagnosed with a DVT. This can be done both on the arms or the legs, depending on where the DVT occurred.

When you have your first DVT, you are usually placed on a blood thinner for 3 months. After that, your physician may consider extending your blood thinner use to a longer period of time depending on your situation and medical condition.

If a DVT travels to the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolus (PE). It is estimated that up to 600,000 people in the United States are affected by DVT/PE each year, and that up to 100,000 Americans die each year due to DVT/PE.10% to 30% of people affected by DVT/PE will die within one month of diagnosis. In about 25% of people who experience a PE, the first “symptom” is sudden death.

Among people who have had a DVT, one-third will have long-term complications (post-thrombotic syndrome) such as swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb. One-third (about 33%) of people with DVT/PE will have a recurrence within 10 years.

Are you or a loved one at risk for DVT blood clots?

Only a healthcare professional can decide whether you’re at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots that can form in the deep veins of your legs. But, there are certain things that can put you at a higher risk for them. Take a moment to complete this form for yourself (or complete it for someone you love). Then, be sure to talk with a healthcare professional about your risk for DVT and what you can do to help prevent it. A healthcare professional may even want to keep a copy of your completed survey for future reference.


  1. Check all the statements that apply to you.
  2. Enter the number of points shown for each of your checked statements in the space at right.
  3. Add up all your points to reach your total DVT Risk Score. Then, share your completed form with a healthcare professional.
Add 5 points for each of the following statements that apply:
  • Recent hip or knee joint replacement surgery ____
  • Broken hip, pelvis, or leg within the last month ____
  • Stroke within the last month ____
  • Serious trauma within the last month (for example, a fall, broken bone, or car accident) ____
  • Spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis
    within the last month ____
Add 1 point for each of the following statements that apply:
  • Age 41–60 years ____
  • Planning minor surgery in the near future ____
  • Had major surgery within the last month ____
  • Varicose veins ____
  • A history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (for example, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) ____
  • Legs are currently swollen ____
  • Overweight or obese ____
  • Heart attack within the last month ____
  • Congestive heart failure within the last month ____
  • Serious infection within the last month (for example, pneumonia) ____
  • Lung disease within the last month (for example, emphysema or COPD) ____
  • Currently on bed rest or restricted mobility ____
Add 3 points for each of the following statements that apply:
  • Age 75 or over ____
  • History of blood clots, either Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE) ____
  • Family history of blood clots (thrombosis) ____
  • Family history of blood-clotting disorders ____

Add up all your points to get your total DVT Risk Score ____

What does your DVT Risk Score mean?  Only a healthcare professional can determine your risk.

Add 2 points for each of the following statements that apply:
  • Age 60–74 years ____
  • Recent arthroscopic knee surgery (surgery performed through a small incision with a lighted,                           tube-shaped instrument) ____
  • Cancer (current or previous) ____
  • Recently had major surgery that lasted longer than 45 minutes ____
  • Recent laparoscopic surgery that lasted longer than 45 minutes (surgery performed through a small           incision  with a lighted, tube-shaped instrument) ____
  • Recently confined to bed rest for more than 72 hours ____
  • Plaster cast that has kept you from moving your limb within the last month ____
  • Tube in blood vessel in neck or chest that delivers blood or medicine directly to heart                                           (also called central venous access) ____
Low Risk 0-1

What you should do about it: Although you may not be at risk right now, it’s a good idea to reassess your risk for DVT at regularly scheduled heathcare visits or annual exams.

Moderate Risk 2

What you should do about it: Share your answers to this survey with a healthcare professional at your next scheduled appoint- ment so that he or she may address your risk.

High Risk 3+

What you should do about it: Your increased risk requires you to share your answers with a healthcare professional so that he or she may address your risk.

For women only: Add 1 point for each of the following statements that apply:
  • Use of birth control or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) ____
  • Pregnant or had a baby within the last month ____

Talk to a healthcare professional about DVT today. It’s the first step toward preventing it.

Adapted with permission from Caprini JA, Arcelus JI, et al. State-of-the-art venous thromboembolism prophylaxis. Scope. 2001; 8: 228-240.



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