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Is that just a pain… or do I have a Blood Clot?

What are the symptoms of a blood clot?

Blood clots are the body's first aid against bleeding. The blood turns from a liquid into a gel-like state, protecting the flow of blood by plugging any leaks that form.

Without blood clotting, smaller vessels that developed a leak inside the body would keep bleeding. If clotting cannot help to seal cuts, the body loses blood from where it needs it - the tissues and organs.

Clotting that rescues damage is a healthy, vital response to danger. But, when normal body systems are disrupted, internal clots can also form and dislodge, causing medical problems.

Many blood clots occur after surgery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that 50% of all blood clots develop "during or soon after a hospital stay or surgery."

In a published study from 2010, it was estimated that blood clots in the veins are "a major public health problem that affects an estimated 300,000-600,000 individuals in the United States each year."

A blood clot that forms in an artery can cut the supply of blood to major organs.

When blood clots form directly in the arteries, two major medical events can occur. Broadly, clots forming in major arteries lead to:

  • Heart attack - where the heart muscle has its blood supply cut

  • Stroke - where part of the brain loses blood supply

So let’s look a little closer:

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - a clot, usually in a lower leg - is one major cause of pulmonary embolism. It occurs when a DVT travels from the site where it was produced and lodges in the blood supply for the lungs.

Clots lodging in the lungs can also occur in people without a DVT, and an embolism doesn't happen in all people with a DVT.

General symptoms of blood clot

The most common place for a blood clot to develop is the legs. In this case, symptoms may include:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • A warm sensation

  • Tenderness

  • A reddish, dusky discoloration

  • Pain in the calf when stretching toes upward

Blood clots give differing symptoms depending on where in the body they occur:

  • Blood clot in the heart - chest pain and a sensation of heaviness in the chest; lightheadedness and breathing difficulty

  • Blood clot in the abdomen - vomiting, severe pain in the abdomen.

  • Blood clot in the brain - sudden and intense headache. Cognitive changes, such as difficulty speaking

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Most cases of DVT occur in the calves

Gel-like clumps of congealed blood can form in one of the veins, most commonly deep in the leg. This is a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

According to the (CDC), deep vein clots are a serious condition that is under-diagnosed but preventable.

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis

The following may be signs and symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis. For most DVT's, these are in the calf:

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Tenderness

  • Redness of the skin

  • Warmness of the skin

The pain can feel like a pulled muscle or heavy ache. Whether or not the symptoms turn out to signal a DVT, they are problems that need the attention of a doctor as soon as possible.

Doctors will be able to investigate the full picture, do more tests, and get treatment started. They may look for more detailed signs of DVT, including:

  • The location and amount of the swelling, and how this compares with the other limb

  • How the tenderness relates to the form of the veins in the leg

Doctors will want to treat or rule out DVT based on other risks. These can include:

  • Cancer or recent treatment of it

  • Paralysis or partial paralysis

  • A leg cast for a fracture

  • Recent long-distance travel, including long-haul flights

The National Blood Clot Alliance have produced a “Passport to safety” relating to good tips for helping to prevent DVT, including practical prevention measures including staying hydrated, moving the lower legs, and getting up for a walk.

DVT risk factors

Some diseases raise the chances of a DVT. Cancer is one example. Most cases of DVT happen in people:

  • Whose blood cannot easily get back to the heart because they are unable to move

  • Patients with damaged vein linings because of major muscle trauma, for instance, or from long-term vascular diseases such as diabetes mellitus

Other risk factors for DVT include:

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • Dehydration

  • Previous clots

  • Pregnancy

What is pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blocked artery in the chest that occurs when a blood clot is pushed along the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs.

DVT and PE are often related, and can sometimes happen together. Doctors will be more alert to the possibility of a PE in anyone with DVT, or who is at high risk of a clot.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism can cause shortness of breath and pain when breathing deeply

A clot in the lungs produces serious symptoms that need urgent medical attention. PE may be signaled by:

  • Shortness of breath - finding it difficult to get enough breath for no obvious reason

  • Pain when breathing deeply

Other symptoms of PE can include:

  • Fast breathing and a fast heart rate

  • Blood when coughing

Any of the above symptoms need urgent medical attention, whether they are due to PE or not. Other serious symptoms that can go with PE include:

  • Anxiety or dread

  • Collapsing with a light head or fainting

  • Sweating

People should always seek medical help when feeling unwell and concerned.

To be safe your best bet is to consult with an expert that will help you. C & A Safety Consultants is offering CPR/AED training where you will learn about the signs and symptoms’ associated with a DVT or PE and what you can do before it's too late.

C & A Safety Consultants has over 30 years experience in working with business, government agencies, schools, churches, youth groups, camps (day and sleep away) and individuals.

C & A Safety Consultants are located in Southern California.

C & A Safety can be reached at: or by telephone: 805-750-0915

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