Blood Clot FAQs – General Questions for Blood Clots and Clotting Disorders

Thrombosis is the medical term used to describe a blood clot. Generally, this term is used to refer to blood clots that occur in the veins of the body (DVT or PE described below).

Thrombophilia is a medical term used to describe a predisposition to developing blood clots.

Q. What is a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

A. A DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) is a blood clot that forms in the leg veins, typically beginning in the calf veins.

Q. What is a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?

A. A PE (Pulmonary Embolism) is caused by a blood clot, typically in the leg, groin, or pelvic veins (and occasionally in the upper extremity veins) which breaks free and travels to the lung arteries.

Q. What is the relationship between a DVT and a PE?

A. A DVT is often the source of a clot that travels to the lung arteries and becomes a PE.

Q. What fraction of people with a DVT get a PE?

A. The risk varies depending on the location of the clot. The risk for a PE increases the higher up in the leg the DVT occurs. For example, a calf DVT has a lower risk of breaking off and becoming a PE than a clot behind the knee or one in the groin or pelvic veins. Essentially, the larger the vein with the clot, the greater the risk of developing a PE.

Q .What fraction of people with a PE have an identifiable DVT?

A. One-third to two-thirds.

Q. What is the frequency of clots among men and women?

A. About equal.

Q. What is the rate of death in people who have a PE?

A. This depends upon age, health, and underlying medical conditions, as well as the cause of the PE.

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