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Venous Disease

DVT and PE Prevention and Risk Factors

The formation of blood clots increases your risk of DVT and PE.  For PE, DVT itself is a significant risk factor, since a dislodged DVT is almost always the cause of PE. If you've previously experienced PE, you're also at an increased risk. Approximately, One-third of individuals that experience DVT will have a recurrent episode of DVT within the next 8-10 years.1,2  

Risk factors for DVT and PE include:4,5

  • Prolonged immobility

  • Travel that causes immobility (plane, rail, automobile)

  • Trauma

  • Surgery or hospitalization

  • Pregnancy

  • Oral contraceptive

  • Hormone replacement therapy

  • Obesity

  • Cancer treatment

  • Smoking

  • Aging

  • Nursing home residency

  • Genetic clotting disorders


There are several things you can do to help prevent DVT and PE:4,5

  • Exercise and lead an active lifestyle

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Refrain from smoking

  • When sitting for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and restore circulation to them, even if that just means stretching and flexing in your seat. Be sure to stay hydrated, too.

  • Get out of bed and move as soon as possible after surgery or hospitalization, to the extent recommended by your doctor.

  • If you are at high risk or have been diagnosed with DVT or PE, your doctor may prescribe anticoagulation medication or compression stockings to prevent clots from forming.


Diagnosis of DVT and PE is determined by a physician using a variety of tests and imaging.




  1. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Office of the Surgeon General (US); National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (US). 2008.
  2. Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities 2012 Annual Fiscal Report.
  4. Deep Vein Thrombosis Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. Pulmonary Embolism. Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  6. Explore Deep Vein Thrombosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
  7. Explore Pulmonary Embolism. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.