The Dangers of Blood Clots

blood clot

Blood clots, also known as “Deep Vein Thrombosis” (DVT) occurs when there is coagulated blood causing a disruption to the flow of blood in the body, often due to being sedentary or having a recent surgery. Most often they occur in the legs, but can also occur in the arms, chest and pelvis.
When there is a wound in your blood vessels, it is normal for your body to create a clot to heal the wound. The problem occurs when a clot forms without anything to heal, or continues to grow and can travel and into your lungs, brain, or heart and become fatal.

Blood clots are the third most common form of cardiovascular fatality next to heart attacks and stroke. About 1 -2 people per 1000 is affected in Canada, and risk increases depending on individual factors. Having a blood clot can potentially fatal if it travels to the lungs – so know your risk, the symptoms, and how to prevent them from occurring.

Risk Factors
You may be at increased risk for blood clots if you:
– Have had recent surgery.
– Are 65 or older.
– Have had cancer, heart disease, stroke, or recently broken a bone.
– Are confined to bed or chair, or will be confined to sitting (eg. When taking long trips). Many blood clots occur when an individual is not moving around enough.

Symptoms of a Blood Clot
Determining whether or not you have a blood clot can be difficult, as the symptoms resemble many conditions or go unnoticed all together. Almost half of people with DVT report no symptoms. The following is a list of common symptoms to look out for:
– New swelling and skin redness in the suspected area
– Soreness or pain in the suspected area.
– A warm spot in the suspected area.
– If you suspect there is a blood clot, do not massage the area.

DVT is difficult to diagnose based off of symptoms, so if you suspect you have a blood clot, you can call your healthcare provider.

Reducing the Risk of Blood Clots
– You can reduce the risk of getting blood clots by doing the following:
– Avoiding tight clothes
– Raising your legs 6 inches above your heart occasionally
– Asking your doctor about compression stockings
– Trying to move around as much as possible, especially if sitting or lying down for long periods of time
– Watching your sodium intake
– Engaging in moderate exercise regularly

When to get Medical Attention

It’s best to call a doctor or 911 immediately if you experience any of the following:
– Sudden changes in breathing
– Chest pressure or discomfort
– Difficulty seeing or speaking
When you get medical attention, your healthcare provider will provide you with treatment to prevent the clot from long lasting damage, including growing, detaching and travelling to other parts of the body. It is important that you get quick treatment for DVT to avoid serious complications including Post-Thrombotic Syndrome, where swelling occurs in the site due to lasting damage from the blood clot.

Knowledge is power. By knowing how to manage your lifestyle to reduce your risk, you can help maintain your healthy life. Happy Heart Month Everyone!