According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, venous thromboembolism (VTE) affects an estimated 900,000 Americans each year. More commonly known as blood clots, nearly 100,000 of these cases are fatal.
While blood clotting can be beneficial when stopping an injured blood vessel from bleeding, clots that do not dissolve naturally often require medical attention. What are the risk factors, symptoms and some ways to prevent dangerous blood clots?
Risk Factors for Blood Clots
Blood clots are often misdiagnosed as other health conditions, which may unfortunately lead to delayed treatment, complications and possible death.
Although blood clots can emerge without symptoms, it’s important to know if you’re at risk. Factors include:
- Age (starts to increase at 40)
- Cancer and cancer treatments
- Chronic medical conditions
- Injury or trauma to a vein
- Previous clot or family history
- Surgery or hospitalization
Symptoms of a DVT Blood Clot
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) typically occurs in a deep vein in the leg, thigh, pelvis or arm. DVT blood clots are often accompanied by swelling, pain and skin redness. As many as 50 percent of people who have a DVT blood clot will suffer long-term complications caused by vein valve damage. Called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), symptoms include swelling, discomfort and skin discoloration.
Symptoms of a PE Blood Clot
When part of a DVT blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, a blockage called pulmonary embolism (PE) can occur. Symptoms of PE include chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, irregular heartbeat and can be fatal.
Symptoms of Arterial Thrombosis
Arterial thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in an artery, can stop blood flow to major organs. Symptoms vary depending on where the blood clot has formed but may include:
- Chest pain
- Leg pain
- Leg or arm swelling
- Numbness, weakness on one side
When blood flow to part of the body is blocked, the following conditions can occur:
- Heart attack – blocked blood flow to the heart muscle
- Stroke – blocked blood flow to the brain
- Mini-Stroke – temporarily blocked blood flow to the brain
- Critical Limb Ischemia – blocked blood flow to a limb
How to Prevent Blood Clots
If you’re at high risk for blood clots, adhere to your doctor’s recommendations based on your individual risk factors. You can also do the following to help prevent blood clots:
- Avoid prolonged sitting
- Drink water
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Stay active
- Wear compression stockings
If you have symptoms of venous insufficiency, including leg pain, heaviness, fatigue, itching, swelling and tenderness, delayed treatment can have serious complications. These include DVT blood clots, which can form when blood platelets stick together in malfunctioning veins.
For modern treatments that address your underlying vein disease, contact the Vein Centers of Connecticut today!