Dealing with blood clots can be a life-changing and even life-threatening situation. Suppose you or someone you know is suffering from this problem. In that case, it’s important to understand the symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis process, treatment options, and preventive methods necessary for living with this condition.
With an adequate understanding of your condition, education about proper care and management techniques (like lifestyle adjustments or medication), and support from medical professionals – dealing with blood clots does not have to be a challenge. So let’s take a deeper look into different aspects of this health concern so that you can feel secure in managing your health.
To learn more about effectively preventing blood clots, contact Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine at 941.378.5100.
What Is A Blood Clot?
Blood clots typically serve a valuable purpose, plugging the injured blood vessel and preventing further bleeding. Yet, sometimes these gel-like masses of blood form in your veins inexplicably. When this happens, medical attention is often necessary – especially if they are located near vital organs like the lungs or brain.
When blood is not properly flowing, clots can form. In addition, if the platelets congregate in your veins or heart where it doesn’t move quickly enough, they may easily stick together. Such conditions include atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Awareness of the typical symptoms and risk factors associated with a blood clot could give you an edge in spotting or avoiding this life-threatening situation. In addition, the manifestations of a blood clot and the necessary treatment depend on where it develops, as well as how much damage is caused by the blockage.
A clot is a thrombus when it forms in an inappropriate area. Not only can the clot remain stationary (thrombosis) or travel throughout your body (embolism/thromboembolism), but also potentially become especially dangerous when on the move. Furthermore, blood clots may form in either vein (venous clots) or arteries (arterial clots).
Hence, educating yourself on warning signs and managing risks related to a potential blood clot can benefit your overall health.
Blood Clot – Symptoms
Here are some of the main symptoms of blood clots in various areas of the body:
Hands & Legs
- Pain – As the clot grows in severity, you may feel aching or pain. This discomfort can range from dull to excruciating. It is also possible that throbbing will be associated with your leg, abdomen, and arm area.
- Swelling – In either the same location where a blood clot initially forms or in an entire limb, swelling may appear.
- Lower Leg Cramp – If the clot is in your lower leg or calf, it might feel like you’re having an intense cramp or charley horse.
- Trouble Breathing – If this scenario occurs, it indicates that the clot has shifted from your arm or leg to your lungs. You may also experience a severe cough and could even expel blood while coughing. Additionally, you might sense chest pain or feel lightheadedness.
The formation of a blood clot around your heart can lead to a heart attack. Be aware of the following symptoms that may indicate danger:
- Extreme chest and arm pain
- Shortness of breath
Fat accumulation in the walls of your brain’s blood vessels can contribute to cerebral blood clots. Alternatively, they may also form as a result of head trauma-induced concussions.
In other scenarios, a clot from another part of your body, such as the chest or neck, might enter your bloodstream and eventually culminate in a stroke when it reaches your brain.
Be mindful of the following signs:
- Visual and verbal impairments
- A seizure-like episode
- The overall sensation of fatigue
Blood clots can form in the veins responsible for draining blood from your intestines, whether due to diverticulitis, liver disease, or even common contraceptives.
If you experience any of the signs listed below, see a physician right away:
- Debilitating belly pain that may worsen after eating
- Feeling of bloating
A pulmonary embolism develops when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery of the lung and restricts (or completely stops) blood flow. Clots that begin from the legs before reaching the right side of the heart and entering the lungs are known as deep vein thrombosis. Immediately seek medical help if any of the following signs appear:
Who Is Likely To Develop Blood Clots?
People in the categories below are likely to develop a blood clot.
- Those in a major operation, especially on the hip, knee, belly, and pelvis.
- Suffered a serious injury, like in an automobile crash.
- Injured vein due to bone breakage or muscle injury.
- Individuals who are undergoing cancer treatments.
- Use estrogen-containing birth control techniques like tablets, patches, or rings.
- Women who are pregnant and those who have not completed six weeks after delivery.
- Individuals who are obese.
- Those who sit or are sedentary for a long period of time.
- People who regularly smoke.
- Those who are 55 years or older.
- Individuals with heart issues, lung conditions, or diabetes.
- Patients who have a clotting disorder that predisposes them to blood clots. Sometimes this isn’t even known prior to a pod clot forming.
Diagnosing Blood Clots
If your doctor suspects a blood clot, they will likely utilize several medical tests to confirm their suspicions or rule out other conditions. Your physician might recommend the following procedures as part of the diagnosis process:
- Blood Tests – There have been instances where blood tests are enough to rule out blood clots.
- Ultrasound – An ultrasound provides a clear view of an individual’s veins and blood flow.
- CT Scan – A CT scan of your head, torso, and abdomen can validate the presence of a blood clot. This imaging procedure will also help differentiate between other potential causes that could result in similar symptoms.
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) – This imaging exam is comparable to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). With an MRA, a doctor can easily focus on blood vessels.
- V/Q Scan – These scans evaluate air and blood circulation within the lungs.
Blood Clots – Treatment
To protect you from severe complications, the main objective of treating dangerous blood clots, particularly DVTs, is ensuring that they do not become larger or break away. You can significantly reduce your risk of developing more clotting by undergoing treatment. The exact form of treatment relies heavily on where the blood clot is located and how much danger it poses to your well-being.
- Medication – Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, prevent dangerous clot formation. Should these life-threatening blockages arise regardless, drugs known as thrombolytics can rapidly dissolve them and restore healthful circulation.
- Vena Cava Filters – When a person cannot take blood thinners, surgical measures may be taken to guard against the threat of pulmonary embolism. In such cases, filters are inserted into the inferior vena cava – our body’s main vein – as a preventative strategy against potentially fatal clotting of blood traveling toward the lungs.
- Surgery – A catheter-directed thrombolysis is a process where specialists insert a long tube into the affected area to administer the medication directly that can assist with dissolving the clot. Alternatively, doctors employ specialized tools to extricate blood clots in a procedure called thrombectomy delicately if surgery is necessary.
- Stents – Physicians may determine if a stent is necessary to maintain an open blood vessel.
- Compression Stockings – Compression stockings gently hug the legs to aid in warding off leg swelling and blood clots from forming.
How To Prevent Blood Clots?
The following habits could assist you in reducing your chance of getting blood clots:
- Engaging in regular exercise
- Maintaining a balanced diet and proper hydration levels
- Managing existing medical conditions like obesity, hypertension, or diabetes or an underlying clotting disorder.
Blood clots can be fatal, but they don’t have to be with the proper knowledge and medical skill. Everyone should know the risk of developing a blood clot, how to recognize one, and effective treatment options.
Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine offer experienced medical specialists who can help diagnose and treat blood clots. Call 941.378.5100 now to schedule a consultation.