What is a DVT or PE and how do you recognise them?

If you have reached this website, it is likely that you or somebody you care for has been examined for, or diagnosed with, a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE).

These conditions are caused when a blood clot (sometimes known as a thrombus) blocks a key blood vessel.1 This is why you may hear DVT or PE referred to as venous thromboembolism (a blood clot in a vein). Although both DVT and PE have the potential to be serious conditions, they can be treated – the key is to act quickly if you spot the signs and symptoms.

What is a DVT?

A DVT is a blood clot that may form in one of the deep veins of the body – usually in the calf or thigh of one leg.1-4

What is a PE?5

A PE is usually a complication of a DVT. This condition may occur when part of a blood clot causing a DVT in the leg – or, rarely, in another part of the body – breaks away and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. A PE is a serious condition that can potentially be life-threatening – so it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Watch a short animation about the signs and symptoms of DVT and PE

1. Mayo Clinic. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Available at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352557?p=1. Last accessed September 2021.
2. NHS. DVT (deep vein thrombosis). October 2019. Available at
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt/. Last accessed September 2021.
3. Cleveland Clinic. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). July 2019. Available at
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16911-deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt. Last accessed September 2021.
4. Thrombosis UK. Signs and symptoms. 2020. Available at
https://thrombosisuk.org/signs-symptoms.php. Last accessed September 2021.
5. Mayo Clinic. Pulmonary embolism. Available at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-embolism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354647?p=1. Last accessed September 2021.
6. NHS. Pulmonary embolism. April 2020. Available at
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pulmonary-embolism/. Last accessed September 2021.
7. Cleveland Clinic. Pulmonary Embolism. February 2019. Available at
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17400-pulmonary-embolism. Last accessed September 2021.

PP-ELI-HKG-0855 MAY 2022