Blood clots can be a potentially life-threatening ordeal. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is especially dangerous. Twenty five percent of DVT patients have a “sudden death” due to the clot spreading to their lungs, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But understanding more about DVT and its early signs could help prevent this fate.
DVT is when you get a blood clot in one of the veins deep within your body. Blood clotting is a natural process that prevents you from bleeding excessively, but when they occur in some areas of your body they don’t get removed naturally.
DVT normally occurs in your thighs or the lower parts of your leg but may develop elsewhere.
It can quickly become fatal if the blood clot breaks off from its location and is sent through the blood to the lungs – known as a pulmonary embolism [PE].
The health body Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott (VISP) explains that there are many “common and early blood clot symptoms that can lead to DVT”. Looking out for these could help you get treatment before PE strikes.
These symptoms include:
- Swelling of the affected area
- Leg pain
- Reddish, bluish, or pale skin around the affected leg
- Throbbing or cramping pain
These symptoms may be difficult to spot and many who have had DVT in the past have reported not having symptoms at all.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests “up to 30 percent of people with a DVT don’t have symptoms, but sometimes the symptoms are very mild and may not raise concern”.
Some of the symptoms may also develop gradually and not appear to cause problems for years.
The health body adds: “As many as half of those who get a DVT in their legs develop symptoms of intermittent leg pain and swelling that may last months to years.”
Although it is better to catch DVT early, it’s still important to know the signs of PE so you can react immediately.
VISP explains that coughing up blood is one of the “top symptoms that you need to keep an eye on”.
The other symptoms include “sudden shortness of breath” that gets more intense as you exert yourself, and an “unexplained, sharp, and tight chest pain” that may be felt when you cough or bend over.
These symptoms can be signs of other severe conditions, so even if you haven’t had any of the DVT signs precede it, it is important to get checked out.
According to VISP, the chest pain “can feel like you are having a heart attack”.
Can you prevent blood clots? If so, how?
There are many factors that increase the risk of suffering from DVT. There are several factors that are difficult to control, such as having an inherited condition which increases your chances of blood clots, and being over the age of 40.
But there are several risks that can be reduced through lifestyle decisions. Being obese, smoking, as well as not moving for long periods of time are all risk factors that can be mitigated.
The Cleveland Clinic has advice on its website about how to prevent DVT, especially if you work a sedentary job.
It suggests that you should “exercise your calf muscles if you’re sitting still for long periods of time”, and also recommends that you stay hydrated at all times.
Since the risk of DVT also increases while you’re flying on planes, it suggests you “stand up and walk for a few minutes every hour while awake and especially during a long-haul flight or road trip”.