Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) clots frequently develop in the lower leg and can keep blood from flowing to vital organs like the heart and brain. These clots also can break off and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, creating a blockage called a pulmonary embolism that can cause serious damage or death.
AARP’s recent article entitled “6 Signs of a Blood Clot You Shouldn't Ignore” says that about 100,000 people die from blood clots each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You’re also at higher risk if you are in any of these categories:
Scientists have also found a connection between COVID-19 and abnormal blood clots, possibly triggered by the high levels of inflammation caused by the disease. While blood clots are useful to stop bleeding after an injury, they can occur at any time and are of particular concern when you’re sedentary or immobile for an extended period. Medical experts say you should be especially alert for clot symptoms at these times:
Older patients who develop DVT often attribute their symptoms to other ailments, leading to dangerous delays in diagnosis, says Lee Kirksey, M.D., a vascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. “As we age, we have more aches and pains,” Kirksey says. “You figure if you wait it out, it will go away.”
However, while some small blood clots go away on their own, larger ones rarely do, Barnes says. He and other experts say you should seek medical care, if you have any of these common signs and symptoms of a blood clot:
“An important piece of information for patients to understand is that the diagnosis of a blood clot in your leg is made by a very simple test,” Kirksey says. “It’s an ultrasound that’s painless, requires about 15 minutes and can be done in a physician’s office or at a hospital. Yet it can identify a catastrophic DVT and allow us to initiate care, so you can avoid significant complications.”
If a clot is found, most patients will be prescribed blood-thinning medicine, and other medications to break up the clot may be used. In rare cases, surgery may be required. The most important thing to remember is that if you do have a clot, getting it diagnosed and treated early lessens the chance of long-term damage and disability.
Reference: AARP (Oct. 7, 2021) “6 Signs of a Blood Clot You Shouldn't Ignore”
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