Deep-vein thrombosis: Blood clots in your veins

Let's play a quick game of free association. We say "blood vessel disorder," and you say the first thing that comes to your mind. Whether you are a healthy man or a patient, a primary care physician or a specialist, an epidemiologist or a lab researcher, your answer is likely to focus on the body's arteries. It's no surprise, since arterial diseases account for heart attacks (the coronary arteries), most strokes (the carotid arteries and smaller arteries in the brain), and many amputations (the leg arteries). And there's more: arterial disorders are also the culprits in many cases of kidney failure, dementia, intestinal bleeding, and even erectile dysfunction.

Healthy arteries are essential for good health. But the circulatory system has another set of blood vessels, the veins. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all the body's tissues. Then veins swing into action, collecting the blood from the tissues and returning it to the heart and lungs so it can be circulated again and again.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.