British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
Blood clots are a double-edged sword. When the gel-like clumps spur on in response to bleeding, they can prove useful. However, not all clots are to be welcomed. Blood clots that develop in your veins, also known as deep vein thrombosis, can be dangerous. Fortunately, a doctor has shared the five red flags to look out for.
Deep vein thrombosis can be serious because the blood clots residing in your veins can break loose.
The gel-like clumps can then travel through your bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs, blocking your blood flow.
Dr Omar Abu-Bakr, Consultant Venous Surgeon at The Whiteley Clinic, said: “Approximately 50 percent of people with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) experience symptoms.
“However, it’s important to note that some people with DVT may not experience any symptoms at all, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘silent’ condition.”
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When symptoms do appear, it’s important to act promptly and seek medical help “right away”.
The doctor shared that the following are “common warning” signs, pointing to blood clots in veins.
A swelling that usually occurs in the leg, ankle or foot is considered one of the tell-tale signs of deep vein thrombosis.
Dr Abu-Bakr said: “On its own, this symptom can be mistaken for something else, such as an insect bite.
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“However, combined with other signs, it can be an indicator of deep vein thrombosis.”
Enlarged, sore veins and cramping
The swelling can often be accompanied by visibly swollen veins that feel painful or hard to touch.
The doctor said: “Along with swelling, people might also experience sharp, painful cramps in the leg.
“These usually start in the calf before spreading to the rest of the leg.”
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Warmth or redness
DVT may cause your skin to feel warm in the affected area around where the clot is in the body.
Dr Abu-Bakr said: “This warmth is noticeable by the difference in temperature between the affected area compared to surrounding body parts.”
Discolouration in the skin
The affected area may also change its usual tint and become a pale colour with a red or blue shade.
The doctor added: “If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have risk factors for DVT, it’s important to seek medical attention right away to prevent complications.”
The good news is that there are several ways to reduce your risk of blood clots in veins.
The doctor recommended the following strategies:
- Use compression stockings to help improve blood flow in the legs (particularly helpful when it comes to long-haul flights)
- Stay active to address DVT risk factors by helping you maintain a healthy weight, boosting circulation, improving lung function, and strengthening muscles
- Stay hydrated to reduce the risk of blood thickening
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing (if you sit or stand for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and move around).
The doctor added: “It’s important to note that these strategies may not be effective in all cases, and some people may require additional interventions, such as medication or surgery, to prevent DVT.
“Talk to your healthcare provider about the best strategies for your individual situation.”
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