Several factors can increase a person’s risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) development. Examples include injury to the veins, hormonal changes, reduced blood flow, certain health conditions, and more.

DVT is a blood clot that occurs in a vein deep within the body, typically in the leg. DVT risk factors may be transient, or temporary, such as pregnancy or recovering from surgery. They can also be persistent, such as cancer or living with a chronic health condition.

Knowing a person’s risk factor for DVT can help healthcare professionals identify and treat DVT faster if it occurs. It can also allow a person to take steps to help reduce their risk.

This article reviews the various risk factors for DVT and discusses prevention tips, when to contact a doctor, and more.

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Injury to veins can increase the risk of a person developing DVT. Some causes of vein injury include:

  • surgery
  • physical trauma
  • previous DVT
  • peripherally inserted venous catheters
  • intravenous drug use

Hormone changes can influence the risk a person has for developing DVT. In particular, an increase in estrogen can increase a person’s risk of DVT.

Some causes of estrogen increase include:

Reduced blood flow can increase the risk of DVT development.

Inactivity may cause reduced blood flow in several people. Factors that can result in inactivity and increase the risk include:

Wearing a cast following an injury may also reduce blood flow.

Certain medical conditions and infections can increase the risk of DVT.

Some chronic conditions that may increase a person’s risk include:

Infections such as sepsis and COVID-19 may also increase a person’s risk of DVT.

Other factors can contribute to DVT risk. They include:

A person can inherit some risk factors for DVT.

The identified inherited clotting disorders that can increase the risk of DVT include:

  • protein S deficiency
  • protein C deficiency
  • factor V Leiden mutation
  • prothrombin gene mutation
  • dysfibrinogenemia
  • hyperhomocysteinemia
  • antithrombin deficiency
  • factor XII deficiency

Having a non-O blood group and a family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism increases the risk of DVT.

The exact number of people who develop DVT is unclear. Estimates suggest that about 900,000 people will develop venous thromboembolism — either DVT or a pulmonary embolism — each year in the United States.

Approximately 60,000–100,000 people will die due to venous thromboembolism each year.

Knowing the risk factors and taking steps to reduce these can help a person reduce the likelihood of developing DVT.

A person may be able to take steps to reduce the likelihood of developing DVT.

Steps a person can take to help reduce their risk include:

  • avoiding long periods of immobility where possible
  • increasing movement following long periods of rest, surgery, or injury
  • walking around every 1–2 hours when sitting for long periods of time
  • exercising the legs while sitting
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • taking anticoagulants at a doctor’s recommendation
  • maintaining an active lifestyle

Wearing graduated compression stockings may also help reduce the risk of DVT. A doctor can advise on what class of compression stockings a person should wear and for how long they should wear them.

A person should contact a doctor if they develop symptoms that could indicate DVT. These include:

  • tenderness or pain
  • swelling
  • red or discolored skin
  • thickening or firmness of a vein
  • distended veins

A person can also contact their doctor for advice if they have concerns about the risk factors for DVT. Their doctor can assess their risk and advise on steps they can take to reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.

The doctor can also advise on suitable treatments for DVT. Treating DVT can help reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal in some cases.

Learn more about the symptoms of DVT.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) has several potential risk factors. They include injury to veins, chronic health conditions, infections, surgery, and trauma. Other factors that may increase the likelihood of developing DVT include hormone changes, obesity, smoking, and being over the age of 40 years.

A person can contact their doctor for advice if they have concerns about the risk factors for DVT. The doctor can recommend lifestyle changes to help manage the risk. In some cases, they may also recommend medications such as anticoagulants.

People should also contact a doctor if they develop symptoms of DVT, such as pain or tenderness, swelling, or feeling of firm veins.