Each year as many as 100,000 people die a year from blood clots. Knowing the dangers and symptoms of blood clots allow us to recognize when these symptoms happen and indicate blood clots in our body. Here is what you need to know.
Many factors can lead to excessive blood clotting, leading to limited or blocked blood flow. Blood clots can travel to the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and limbs, which can cause heart attack, stroke, damage to the body’s organs, or even death. (heart.org)
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
The signs and symptoms of blood clots vary depending on the location and type of clot. Still, common symptoms may include swelling in the affected area, pain or tenderness in the affected area, warmth to the touch, or redness over the skin. If you experience any of these symptoms, seeking medical attention right away is vital.
Different Types of Blood Clots
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT):
Blood clot located in a deep vein, usually in a leg or arm.
- Pulmonary embolism (PE):
Blood clot that has traveled from a deep vein to a lung.
DVT and PE are also known as VTE (venous thromboembolism).
Medicines can disrupt the body’s normal blood clotting process. Drugs containing the female hormone estrogen are linked to an increased risk of blood clots. Examples of medicines that may contain estrogen include birth control pills and hormone therapy.
Smoking increases the risk of VTE. Being inactive or bedridden also increases your risk. Other factors associated with an increased risk of VTE include cancer, genetic clotting disorders, autoimmune diseases, and certain surgeries or medical treatments. (heart.org)
Treatment options for blood clots depend on the location and severity of the clot. Anticoagulants, or “blood thinners,” are often used to treat blood clots. These medications help to prevent new clots from forming, as well as breaking up existing clots.
In some circumstances, thrombolytics may be used for more serious clots. These medications, also known as “clot busters”, are injected into the bloodstream and work to dissolve clots.
Surgery is sometimes needed for large or life-threatening blood clots. Surgery may involve making a small incision to remove the clot from a vessel. In some cases, stents may be used to keep vessels open.
Long-term Care for Blood Clots
Talking with your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for you is important, as all cases are different. Your healthcare team can help recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments that may be needed to reduce your risk of blood clots. Discussing any changes in your health, like any new symptoms or side effects, is also essential.
By understanding the causes and treatments for blood clots, you can take steps to reduce your risk and maintain a healthy heart. Taking care of yourself is key to living a healthy life and reducing the risk of complications from blood clots. Talk with your healthcare team about your questions and follow their advice for the best outcomes.
Who Is Most at Risk for Blood Clots
Blood clots become more common as people get older, especially when they are over age 65. Long hospital stays, surgeries, and trauma may significantly increase your risk of blood clots.
Other factors can increase your risk to a lesser degree. You might be more at risk if you:
- Take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
- Are pregnant.
- Have cancer or have been treated for cancer.
- Have a family history of blood clots or a specific condition, such as Factor V Leiden disease, antiphospholipid syndrome or polycythemia vera, that makes clots more likely.
- Have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
How Are Blood Clots Diagnosed?
Blood clot symptoms can mimic other health conditions. Doctors use a variety of tests to detect blood clots and/or rule out other causes. If your doctor suspects a blood clot, they may recommend:
- Blood tests can, in some cases, be used to rule out a blood clot.
- Ultrasound provides a clear view of your veins and blood flow.
- CT scan of the head, abdomen, or chest, may be used to confirm that you have a blood clot. This imaging test can help rule out other potential causes of your symptoms.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is an imaging test similar to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. An MRA looks specifically at blood vessels.
- V/Q scans test the circulation of air and blood in the lungs.
Blood Clot Emergency
If you suspect you have a blood clot or experience any signs and symptoms, you should consider going to the emergency room.
Signs of DVT include:
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet
- Discomfort, heaviness, pain, aching, throbbing, itching, or warmth in the legs
- Skin changes in the leg such as discoloration, thickening, or ulceration
Signs of PE include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
An Emergency Room You Can Trust
Our Board-Certified ER Physicians are experts at diagnosing and treating blood clots. If you suspect you have a blood clot, go to the ER as soon as possible. If necessary, dial 911 for emergency transportation to an emergency room.
Our onsite laboratory and CAT Scan imaging and pharmacy services are available 24/7, 365 days of the year.
“Understand Your Risk for Excessive Blood Clotting.” Www.heart.org, 13 Apr. 2021, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/venous-thromboembolism/understand-your-risk-for-excessive-blood-clotting#:~:text=Blood%20clots%20can%20travel%20to,body’s%20organs%20or%20even%20death
“Blood Clots: Risks, Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17675-blood-clots.
Anderson, Courtney. “Visiting the Emergency Department for a Blood Clot: What to Expect.” North American Thrombosis Forum, 17 Feb. 2022, https://thrombosis.org/2020/11/emergency-department-first-blood-clot-go-expect/.
“Know the Risks, Signs & Symptoms of Blood Clots.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 June 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/infographic-risk.html