When DVT Goes Untreated

Deep-vein thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body. These clots occur most often in the legs or thighs, but they have also been known to occur in the pelvis or arms. Deep-vein thrombosis is a potentially life-threatening condition. If you have or suspect a blood clot, it is important to seek treatment to prevent complications.


A professional diagnosis is required to know for sure if your symptoms are the result of a blood clot. A clot can form with no noticeable symptoms at all, but there are things to look out for. Some of the common symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis include:

  • Swelling or pain
  • Discoloration of skin in the affected leg
  • A warm sensation in the leg
  • Visible veins

Symptoms like these should not be ignored. Blood clots require treatment to prevent permanent damage to your body, and even death.

Consequences of Untreated Deep-Vein Thrombosis

Treatment of deep-vein thrombosis is essential for several reasons. Treatment will prevent your blood clot from growing and becoming more dangerous. It will also prevent additional clots in the future.

Painful and sometimes serious complications can arise when deep-vein thrombosis is left untreated. Some of the symptoms of a blood clot, such as swelling, pain, and discoloration can become permanent if the clot is not treated in time. Ulcers may even form on the skin. These can have difficulty healing on their own, creating the potential for skin infections. This set of chronic symptoms are permanent and is called post-thrombotic syndrome.

The most serious — and perhaps the most familiar — complication of deep-vein thrombosis is pulmonary embolism. About 1 in 10 people with an untreated clot will experience a pulmonary embolism. It occurs when a clot detaches from its position and begins to move through the blood stream. If a clot moves into your lungs, it can severely damage lung tissue. It also restricts blood flow, which can lead to heart failure.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may include dizziness, chest pain, and sudden shortness of breath. Blood or a foamy, pink mucous may be present when coughing. Other possible symptoms include fainting, rapid heart rate, and anxiety. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency, and immediate treatment is crucial. Failure to seek treatment can lead to death. The symptoms of pulmonary embolism can mimic panic attacks and other less serious conditions. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to be aware of and seek treatment for your blood clots.

How is Deep-Vein Thrombosis Treated?

Often, deep-vein thrombosis can be treated with medication. There are a number of anticoagulant medications that prevent blood clot growth and formation. These medications do not dissolve clots. This is another reason treatment is so important. You cannot simply take a pill to make an existing clot go away. With treatment, your body will dissolve the clot on its own while the medication prevents it from becoming worse.

When medication is ineffective against a clot, more invasive procedures may be required. This may include injection of medication into the clot via a catheter, insertion of a filter to prevent movement of the clot, or complete surgical removal of the clot.