Jargon busters for DVT and PE

Learn some important terms that will help you join the conversation

Blood clot

When we get a cut or scrape, our blood forms a plug that seals off the wound and gives it a chance to heal. This natural process (coagulation) can become a problem when something triggers a blood clot to form in a vein located deep inside the body.

Deep Veins

As the name indicates, deep veins are located deeper within and throughout the body. These veins are important, as they are responsible for transporting the majority of blood throughout the body and on to the heart and lungs.

Thrombus

This is a medical term for a blood clot.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

When a blood clot forms in the deep veins in your body, it is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVTs are considered dangerous because they can cause pulmonary embolism, which is potentially life threatening.

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

If a piece of the blood clot (thrombus) from a DVT breaks loose, it will begin to travel from the deep vein, through the body and possibly to the heart and on to the lungs. This “travelling” blood clot is referred to as an “embolus”. If it becomes lodged in the blood vessels of the lung it is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE is dangerous and requires emergency attention as it can cut off blood supply to parts of the lung.

Cancer Associated Thrombosis (CAT)

Cancer patients have a higher risk for getting DVT. CAT refers to thrombosis linked to / derived from cancer.

Anticoagulant

An anticoagulant is a type of medicine that prevents blood clotting (coagulation). Anticoagulants are often referred to as “blood thinners”. Anticoagulants do not actually thin the blood; they interrupt the clotting process to prevent a clot from growing larger or to reduce the chances of a new clot forming.
Examples of anticoagulant medicines include: vitamin K antagonists (VKA), unfractionated heparin (UFH) or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) and direct acting oral anticoagulants. (DOAC).

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