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FAQ's

What is a blood clot?
What are symptoms of DVT or PE?
What should I do if I think I have a blood clot?
How do you test for the presence of a blood clot?
How is a blood clot treated?
What do I need to know about taking anticoagulants?
How can I lower my risk of having blood clots?
Who is at risk for VTE?
Are healthy people at risk of DVT or PE?
How can I get involved in a clinical trial?
Can I make a donation to the Thrombosis Clinic?
What is travel-related thrombosis?
What are the symptoms of travel-related thrombosis?
What should I do if I think I have travel-related thrombosis?
How do I reduce my risk of experiencing travel-related thrombosis?
How are DVT and PE treated?




What is a blood clot?

Blood clotting is the natural process that stops the flow of blood if you are cut or injured. When blood changes from liquid to solid or semi-solid form, a blood clot is formed. The medical term for a blood clot is “thrombosis”.

When a clot occurs in deep veins, it can block the normal flow of blood and cause problems. The most common places for blood clots to form are in the legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or lungs (pulmonary embolism or PE).

What are symptoms of DVT or PE?

  • Swelling or pain in the affected leg or arm
  • Redness or warmth in the affected leg or arm
  • Pressure or sharp pain in the chest
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Sensation that your heart is racing or pounding

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What should I do if I think I have a blood clot?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, call your family physician or go to the emergency department immediately.

How do you test for the presence of a blood clot?

There are a number of diagnostic and blood tests used to detect or rule out the presence of a blood clot. These tests should be done quickly to make a prompt diagnosis.

How is a blood clot treated?

Blood clots are treated with anticoagulants, a type of drug that prevents the blood from clotting quickly. This allows your body to break down the clots you have and prevents more clots from forming. Even though these drugs don’t “thin” your blood, they are commonly called “blood thinners”.

What do I need to know about taking anticoagulants?

It is important that you take your anticoagulants at the same time each day and exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If this is a problem please discuss with the Thrombosis Clinic nurse or doctor. If you miss a dose of anticoagulants, do not take a double dose the next day, but carry on as normal and tell the clinic or your doctor.

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How can I lower my risk of having blood clots?

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid sitting or lying in bed for long periods of time
  • Sit with both legs on the floor (uncrossed)
  • Maintain balance between activity and rest
  • Keep a healthy, regular and stable dietary intake
  • Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water everyday

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Who is at risk for VTE?

The risk of VTE is increased when blood flow is impaired, when veins are damaged or if the blood clots excessively. When one or more of these conditions occur, excessive clotting can start. This can be caused by:

  • Previous blood clot
  • Infection or chronic inflammation
  • Long periods of immobility
  • Cancer
  • Recent surgery, injury or trauma
  • Heart failure or chronic lung problems
  • Being overweight
  • Some immune disorders (eg. Lupus)
  • Recent hospitalization
  • Central venous indwelling catheters (eg. PICC lines)

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Are healthy people at risk of DVT or PE?

Yes. Those at risk include:

  • People over the age of 65
  • Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • Women taking birth control pills
  • Women taking hormone replacement therapy
  • People with a family history of blood clots
  • People with inherited clotting tendency

Regardless of the cause, DVT and PE require immediate diagnosis and treatment.

How can I get involved in a clinical trial?

Our physicians and research nurses help identify patients who may qualify to participate in a clinical trial.

Can I make a donation to the Thrombosis Clinic?

Yes, we rely on donations from many different sources to help:

  • Improve patient care and care delivery
  • Educate patients and the public about the risks, signs and symptoms and treatments associated with blood clots and clotting disorders
  • Support innovative research

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What is travel-related thrombosis?

Travel-related thrombosis occurs when blood clots form in the legs or lungs after a person has been sitting without moving for long periods of time. It can occur when traveling by plane, train, bus or car.

What are the symptoms of travel-related thrombosis?

  • Swelling or pain in the affected leg or arm
  • Redness or warmth in the affected leg or arm
  • Pressure or sharp pain in the chest
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Sensation that your heart is racing or pounding

What should I do if I think I have travel-related thrombosis?

Go to an emergency room or see your family physician immediately.

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How do I reduce my risk of experiencing travel-related thrombosis?

  • Drink plenty of water before and during your trip and avoid alcohol
  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Do gentle leg exercises every half hour or so. Bend and straighten your legs, rotate your ankles or press the balls of your feet hard against the floor
  • Stand up, stretch and walk around, when possible
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills or other sedatives
  • Wear knee-high compression stockings during travel

How are DVT and PE treated?

Blood clots are treated with anticoagulants, which prevent blood from clotting quickly. These drugs are often called “blood thinners”. Treatment involves injections alone or injections for 5‐7 days followed by a pill for at least 3 months. A newer treatment option uses only pills: DOACs (direct oral anti-coagulants). Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you.

Some patients might require admission to a hospital if they need oxygen or pain control. In rare cases, urgent surgery is necessary to remove the clot or aggressive medical treatment to rapidly break down the clot.

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