DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My mother has had deep vein thrombosis twice. I’ve heard this condition can run in families. I’m a 38-year-old woman in good health. I exercise regularly and eat well. What can I do to lower my risk of developing DVT?
ANSWER: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), happens when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep within the leg or pelvis. It is a serious condition because if the clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, it can be life-threatening. A variety of factors can raise your risk for these blood clots, including a family history of DVT, as well as recent surgery, hospitalization for a medical illness, trauma with or without fracture, obesity, immobility, and certain drugs.
DVT most often happens in the large veins within the legs. If a clot in a vein comes loose, it can be carried through your body in the blood flowing back to your heart. From there, it may be pumped into your lungs. A clot that gets stuck in a blood vessel within the lungs — a condition known as a pulmonary embolism — causes sudden death in about 20 to 25 percent of cases.