In simple terms a blood clot is a mass of blood that changes from its liquid state to a gel-like or semi-solid state. You need your blood to clot so that you don’t lose too much blood in circumstances where you might cut yourself or injure yourself.
However, when a clot forms inside your veins, it might not necessarily dissolve on its own, which makes it dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
There are two types of clot diseases that involve the veins:
Blood clots that form directly in your arteries lead to two major events — heart attack, when your heart muscle has its blood supply cut; and stroke, where your brain loses blood supply.
Deep vein thrombosis
DVT occurs in one of your major veins deep in your body. The most common places where such a clot will occur include your legs, but you can also get DVT in your arms, brain, lungs and pelvis.
If the clot is immobile, you aren’t at risk of too much danger, however if that clot moves you could be in trouble. If a blood clot breaks free and travels through your body to either your heart or your lungs it can prevent the flow of blood in that area. When it’s in your lungs it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE) and this is a medical emergency.
Cancer is one disease that increases your risk of DVT, however you are at much greater risk if you are obese, you smoke, you are dehydrated or you’ve experienced previous clots. Another risk factor is your age, especially if you are over the age of 65.
Symptoms of DVT
You might notice swelling, pain, tenderness, redness and/or warmness of the skin, especially in your calf area. These are all signs and symptoms of DVT. It could feel like a pulled muscle or a heavy ache.
Symptoms depend on the size of the clot.
If your clot is in the abdomen, you might suffer severe pain along with vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be difficult to differentiate the symptoms of an abdominal blood clot with those you’d experience with a stomach bug or food poisoning.
You might experience a sudden and severe headache as well as a sudden difficulty in speaking or seeing, which could indicate you have a clot in the brain.
In all circumstances the recommendation would be for you to get it checked out by your health care professional.
A blood clot in your lungs carries with is quite serious symptoms that require urgent attention by a health care professional. You might experience shortness of breath for no obvious reason or pain when you breathe deeply.
Other symptoms include:
Symptoms that come out of nowhere are particularly concerning. If you’re experiencing a sudden shortness of breath, chest pressure, or any difficulty breathing, seeing or speaking you should call a doctor as soon as possible so that a proper diagnosis can be made and effective treatment can be carried out.