Thromboembolism occurs when a clot develops in a blood vessel, breaks free and travels through the blood to another vessel. Thromboembolisms include two conditions:

  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT): A blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. It mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh.
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE): One or more major arteries in your lungs become blocked.

DVT and PE can occur after major surgery, bone fractures or hospitalization for serious medical problems. Thromboembolic disease is the third most common cardiovascular condition. It can go away on its own or become life-threatening.

Symptoms of thromboembolism include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Bloody sputum
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness and faintness
  • Anxiety
  • Leg swelling, tenderness and warmth to the touch (DVT)
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Fever
  • Bluish skin

Risk Factors for Thromboembolism

Thromboembolism is more likely to occur in people with these conditions and characteristics:

  • Varicose veins
  • Hormone therapy
  • Obesity
  • Over 40 years old
  • Recent surgery
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Fracture to the pelvis, hip or long-bones
  • Cancer
  • Tobacco usage
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lupus
  • History of prior DVT