VTE means Venous thromboembolism which  is the name given to deep vein thrombosis (called DVT for short) or a pulmonary embolism (called PE for short).

A DVT is a thrombus (blood clot) that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in your leg or pelvis and can cause swelling and pain or discolouration of the leg- red, purple or blue changes.

If a clot becomes dislodged and passes through your circulation and reaches your lungs, this is called a PE and can cause coughing (with blood stained phlegm), chest pain and breathlessness or collapse. VTE diagnosis requires immediate treatment. If you develop any of these symptoms either in hospital or after discharge, seek medical advice Immediately.

Who is at risk of VTE?

In addition to admission to hospital, there are other factors which place you at greater risk of VTE.

These include:

  • a previous VTE
  • a recent diagnosis of cancer
  • certain blood conditions/clotting disorders (Antiphospholipid syndrome or factor V Leiden)
  • use of certain contraceptive and hormone replacement tablets
  • being overweight (Body mass index more than 30)
  • not being able to move about
  • being older than 60
  • suffering a significant injury or trauma
  • being pregnant
  • after giving birth
  • dehydration
  • smoking
  • varicose veins etc.
  • If you have undergone surgery

Reduce your risk

In hospital:

  • Keep moving or walking and get out of bed as soon as you can after your operation
  • Ask to see a physiotherapist to learn leg exercises
  • Ask your doctor or nurse: ‘What is being done to reduce my risk of VTE?’
  • Drink plenty of fluid to keep hydrated
  • Wear well fitted anti-embolism stockings which will be provided when you are admitted and theses should be worn to help reduce risk

Outside hospital

If your hospital admission has been planned several weeks in advance, there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk of VTE:

  • Talk to your doctor about your temporarily stopping or changing your contraceptive or hormone replacement tablets
  • Keep a healthy weight and do regular exercise
  • Stop smoking

Will my VTE risk be assessed?

Your individual risk for VTE will be assessed by your clinical team. If you are at risk, your doctor or nurse will discuss with you what can be done to reduce your risk and will follow national guidelines and offer you protection against VTE.

For more information please ask a member of staff for a information leaflet  on  Preventing Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) and Hospital Associated Blood Clots.