Return to top of page

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

Venous thromboembolism is a term that includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein in the body. The most common place is the veins of the legs or pelvis—but they can also develop in the arms, brain, or intestines. Not all DVTs break free, but if they do, it can be life threatening. The clot can travel through the circulatory system to the lungs and lodge in a main-lung artery, blocking blood flow and causing severe strain on the heart. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). At least one in 10 people will die within 30 days of developing a PE.

VTE is common—affecting as many as 600,000 in the U.S. If you’ve been diagnosed with VTE, it’s important to be able to recognize symptoms, take steps to prevent recurrence, and seek prompt medical attention if you think you may be experiencing a VTE.

Blood clots in the veins can occur because of damage to the veins due to surgery, serious injuries, extended bedrest or lack of movement, pregnancy and post-delivery, older age, smoking, being overweight or obese, use of certain mediations, and clotting disorders. 

Symptoms of a DVT can include swelling, pain or tenderness, warmth in the swollen area, and red or discolored skin. If the DVT progresses to a PE, symptoms can include unexplained shortness of breath; pain in chest, back, or side that is made worse with deep breathing or coughing; rapid breathing; coughing up blood; or a rapid heart rate.

Sometimes a clot-busting medication can help dissolve blood clots although a procedure may be needed to break up the clot. Surgical removal or insertion of a filter may also be necessary. Anticoagulants are often prescribed after a VTE to prevent future events.

Videos on Venous Thromboembolism

Watch video

Arteries—The Highways of Life: Protecting Them Against Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) include a range of diseases such as cerebrovascular disease, coronary heart disease, aortic atherosclerosis, and peripheral…

Watch video

Living with VTE and Preventing Deadly Blood Clots

Venous thromboembolism, or VTE, is a term that includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. VTE is common, and half…

Watch video

Cómo Vivir con el Tromboembolismo Venoso y Prevenir Coágulos Sanguíneos Mortales

El tromboembolismo venoso o TEV, es un término que incluye la trombosis venosa profunda y embolia pulmonar. TEV es…


The Healthy Aging Blog on Venous Thromboembolism

Understand the Impact of Arterial Health This Older Americans Month with New Videos from the Alliance

Cartoon ambulance.

HROTW: Living with VTE and Preventing Deadly Blood Clots

10 Things to Know About VTE

Cartoon ambulance.

March Is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month!

Living Longer and Loving It

Sign up for our monthly e-mail newsletter for the latest information on
scientific research on aging and health.

Ways to Give

There are many ways you can help accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health:

Platinum Transparency 2024 logo

The Alliance for Aging Research is a proud recipient of Candid’s Platinum Seal of Transparency.

Charity Navigator Four-Star Rating Badge

The Alliance for Aging Research is proud to be rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator.