Even if you don’t have any risk factors for blood clots, you can still develop one, which is one of the reasons it’s important to know the warning signs.
Blood clots affect everyone differently, but usually there are certain symptoms, says vascular doctor Michael Tran. To help unravel the mystery of blood clots, Dr. Tran shares the six most common symptoms of blood clots.
What is a blood clot?
A blood clot is partially hardened blood in a blood vessel. Blood vessels are your body’s highway system. They give blood a path from your heart to the rest of your body. There are three types of blood vessels:
Arteries that carry blood away from the heart.
Veins that return blood to the heart.
Capillaries connect your arteries and veins.
Blood clots can occur anywhere in your body’s 60,000 miles of blood vessels, but most commonly occur in the veins (venous blood clots). The most common forms of venous thrombosis are:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT usually occurs in the legs in the deep veins of the body. Thrombosis is when clots remain and block blood flow.
Pulmonary embolism (PE). If a DVT breaks off and travels to your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism. An embolism is when a blood clot breaks loose and travels to other parts of the body.
Fortunately, arterial thickening is rare. They occur when a blood clot blocks an artery. “They’re a completely different beast,” Dr. Tran said. “The group blocks oxygen from reaching the heart and brain, causing heart attacks and strokes.”
What are the symptoms of a blood clot?
It is difficult to identify the first signs of blood clots. “Each person has different symptoms, and they can range from none to severe,” notes Dr. Tran. “But there are common signs and symptoms of blood clots.”
Here are six of them.
Symptoms of DVT
DVT can occur in your legs or arms. The most common symptoms of a blood clot in your leg include:
Most people have swollen feet, especially at the end of the day. “It’s not the swelling we’re worried about,” Dr. Tran said. Instead, watch for tumors:
Occurs suddenly or more abruptly than usual.
Stays all day.
Does not improve with leg elevation.
New leg pain, such as calf or charley horses, can be a sign of a blood clot in the leg. But if the pain lasts for a few seconds and doesn’t come back, it’s probably not a blood clot.
“Symptoms of blood clots don’t appear quickly,” says Dr. Tran. “They will stay.”
Changes in varicose veins
If you have varicose veins, warning signs of DVT include:
Veins that do not bulge or bulge when lying flat or raising the legs. “This can be a sign of superficial or small blood clots in the veins,” notes Dr. Tran.
A vein that hardens suddenly.
The skin around varicose veins becomes tender and red.
Symptoms of blood clots in the hands are similar to those in the legs, but they are more noticeable when there is swelling. Also, congestion caused by blood clots can cause the hands to turn a little purple, especially in the forearms or hands, says Dr. Tran.
Symptoms of pulmonary embolism
Symptoms of pulmonary embolism usually include:
Amount of cream.
Your general health.
Some common symptoms of a blood clot in your lungs include:
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath unlike anything you’ve ever experienced could be a sign of a blood clot in your lungs, especially if the sensation is prolonged.
“Shortness of breath or shortness of breath with mild exertion can last for hours or even days if there is a blood clot,” notes Dr. Tran. “If you’re gasping for air one second and you’re fine the next, it probably isn’t.”
Chest pain can indicate a heart problem, but it can also be a sign of a blood clot. Chest pain occurs with constant or deep breathing.
“It may feel like a pain that starts in your front and moves to the back of your chest,” says Dr. Tran. “You may also feel heavy or prolonged pressure in your chest. If it just goes away quickly and doesn’t recur, you probably don’t have a blood clot.”
Coughing up blood
Another sign of a blood clot in your lungs is coughing up blood. There will be a little blood in the sputum (tears, mucus): “It will be more – a teaspoon or a spoonful of blood,” notes Dr. Tran.
What to do if you think you have a blood clot
Your plan of action may differ depending on whether you suspect pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.
If you think you have a pulmonary embolism
Some pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening, so if you have symptoms of a blood clot in your lungs, go to the emergency room and get checked out by a doctor. Your primary care physician
“A CT scan shows doctors your arteries. A nuclear medicine ventilation profusion study is a breathing test with a tracer.”
If you think you have a DVT
If your symptoms remain for more than a day or two and worsen, reach out to your primary care doctor. “Your doctor can help you decide your next steps,” recommends Dr. Tran.
If you need help outside of your doctor’s regular business hours, go to the emergency room and not urgent care. “Urgent cares often can’t do ultrasounds, which is the test you need,” says Dr. Tran.
The location of the suspected blood clot matters, too. For example, different leg locations are more worrisome than others.
If the blood clot is in your calf, for instance, your doctor may monitor it by ultrasound with scans every few weeks. If it’s a high-risk blood clot, doctors will often prescribe a blood thinner within 24 hours.
“But it’s not like a stroke where you need to get to the ER within three hours,” says Dr. Tran. “It’s OK to take a wait-and-see approach. Most patients come to us after they’ve had symptoms for several days and do just fine.”
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