According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100, 000 US individuals die each year because of blood clots. These may happen to anyone and getting an early diagnosis can significantly bring down the mortality rate.
There’re two types of blood clots. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to clot formation in a deep vein of your body, typically one in your arm or leg. Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when clots from a DVT break off and make their way towards the lungs. This can have fatal consequences.
How can you tell if you have a blood clot? Here’re a few signs.
Pain and Swelling in Your Arm or Leg
As we learned above, DVT usually occurs in the vessels in your arms or legs. When a clot forms in one of these veins, your leg appears to look puffier and larger than the other one due to swelling. Because the blood is unable to travel back to the heart, there’s a pressure buildup in your leg which causes the fluid to spread towards the tissue in the leg. The symptoms are typically visible just below the knee when this happens. Similarly, if a blood clot forms in a vein in your arm, you’ll notice swelling in your arm.
In addition to swelling in your limbs, blood clots also cause significant pain. This may start off as an uncomfortable pressure in your arm or leg and escalate into a throbbing and painful sensation, especially when you walk.
One sign of pulmonary embolism is a sharp pain in your chest. Since the blood clot has traveled to your lungs, it now affects your respiratory tract and pathways. As a result, you may experience shooting pain in your chest cavity which is likely to worsen as you take deep breaths or cough.
Chest pain is often mistaken as a sign of angina or heart attack. However, while the latter entails a dull ache in your chest, with PE the pain is more excruciating and sudden, making it difficult for you even to breathe.
Breathlessness and Racing Heart
Have you been feeling short of breath lately? Is your heart rate greater than normal, despite you not having engaged in strenuous exercise or been exposed to a stressful situation? If so, it may just be a sign of a blood clot!
A racing heart and breathlessness is a huge indicator of pulmonary embolism. In fact, it’s often the only symptom of you having a blood clot. Because the clot is blocking up your blood pathways, your heart beats faster than usual to pump oxygen to various parts of your body. The result is a dangerously increased heart rate and immense shortness of breath.
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