What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where a blood clot forms inside a vein. It is often caused by vein disease and forms mainly in the thigh or lower leg, but can be found in other areas. This health condition is serious because the blood clot can dislodge and cause a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. If you suspect you have DVT, seek immediate medical care as the blood clot is a serious health risk. 

Is Peripheral Vascular Disease (PAD) the Same as DVT?

Peripheral vascular disease (PAD) is a different condition than DVT, even though they can both affect the legs. PAD occurs in the arteries, which transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Conversely, DVT occurs in the deep veins, which transport blood from the body back to the lungs and heart. For an accurate diagnosis of PAD, you will need to visit a vascular specialist. 



Understanding the differences between the signs, risk factors, and causes of PAD and DVT can help you make a more informed decision about treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Those who suffer from PAD don’t always have symptoms, especially during the early stages. As the disease progresses, they may begin to notice signs. The most common include:

  • Claudication or leg pain, which often begins during physical activity
  • Numbness or weakness in the leg
  • Tingling in legs
  • Arterial ulcers on the feet that won’t heal
  • Hair loss on legs

Not everyone with DVT will exhibit signs either, but they usually experience the following when symptoms become noticeable:

  • Swelling in the leg, foot, or ankle, often on one side
  • Unexplained pain in your ankle or foot
  • Cramping pain that starts with the calf
  • Skin that feels warmer than normal in one area
  • Skin that turns pale bluish or reddish

If you notice symptoms of either condition, you should contact your doctor for a diagnosis.

Risk Factors

A major difference between PAD and DVT is the risk factors. Atherosclerosis is the main risk factor for PAD, which is impacted by a lack of exercise, a diet high in fat, and age.

A person may have a higher chance of developing DVT if they have the following factors:

  • Taking certain medications, such as birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Being overweight, which increases pressure on the veins
  • An injury that damages the veins
  • Spending a lot of time sitting
  • Certain medical conditions, such as blood clotting disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer
  • Heart failure


PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, which occurs when plaque builds up along the walls of the arteries, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. Other conditions can contribute to PAD developing, such as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

DVT is caused by a blood clot, which can develop for various reasons:

  • Vein disease
  • Injury to the vein’s walls
  • Damage to a blood vessel during surgery
  • Inactivity or reduced mobility

DVT and PAD Prognosis and Treatments

Both DVT and PAD are serious conditions that shouldn’t be ignored. A blood clot from DVT can travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can lead to death. If you suspect you have DVT, you should seek care immediately to prevent a life-threatening embolism. You may be given the recommendation to consult with a vein specialist about treatments to avoid blood clotting and its underlying causes going forward.

PAD for most patients begins as asymptomatic, but if left untreated can lead to issues with mobility, and in the worst case could cause lower-extremity amputation. With treatment, you can improve your symptoms and help prevent your condition from advancing to a more serious stage. 

Schedule a Consultation at USA Vascular Centers Today

If you are experiencing issues with your legs, it is important to find out if it could be related to PAD or DVT. A progressive condition like PAD could keep you from maintaining your mobility if not treated early. 

The vascular specialists at USA Vascular Centers can recommend a treatment plan to help improve your mobility while alleviating the painful symptoms of PAD. Schedule a consultation or give us a call at 888.773.2193 to make an appointment at one of our AAAHC-accredited treatment facilities.



Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.