British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
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The Mayo Clinic explains a pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. The health body says in most cases, pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from deep veins in the legs or, rarely, from veins in other parts of the body. It adds: “Because the clots block blood flow to the lungs, pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening.”
The organisation says “excessive sweating” can occur with pulmonary embolism. It adds that common signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath. This symptom typically appears suddenly and always gets worse with exertion
- Chest pain. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack. The pain is often sharp and felt when you breathe in deeply, often stopping you from being able to take a deep breath. It can also be felt when you cough, bend or stoop
- Cough. The cough may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum.
It warns: “Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. Seek urgent medical attention if you experience unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or a cough that produces bloody sputum.”
The NHS says you should see a GP if:
- You feel pain in your chest or upper back
- You have difficulty breathing
- You’re coughing up blood.
It says: “You may also have pain, redness and swelling in one of your legs (usually the calf). These are symptoms of a blood clot, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).”
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The NHS explains deep vein thrombosis DVT is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body, usually in the leg.
It explains: “Blood clots that develop in a vein are also known as venous thrombosis. DVT usually occurs in a deep leg vein, a larger vein that runs through the muscles of the calf and the thigh.”
Stop the Clot says deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm.
The organisation says signs and symptoms of a DVT include:
- Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
- Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
- Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
- Leg (or arm) warm to touch.
It states: “Contact your doctor as soon as you can if you have any of these symptoms, because you may need treatment right away.”
The NHS says: “If a GP thinks you’ve got a pulmonary embolism, you’ll be sent to hospital for further tests and treatment.
“At hospital, you’ll probably be given an injection of anticoagulant medicine before you get any test results.”
Some risk factors put certain people at higher risk for developing a blood clot, though sometimes, a blood clot in a vein can occur with no apparent underlying risk factor.
Blood clots become more common as people get older, especially when they are over age 65. Moreover, you can be at higher risk if you have a family history of blood clots.
Other risk factors include if you are overweight or using combined hormonal contraception, such as the combined pill.
If you are pregnant or have just had a baby, your risk is also higher. Similarly, if you have an inflammatory condition such as Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, this can increase your risk of clots.
If you are at higher risk you should not drink lots of alcohol as this can make you dehydrated, and more prone to clots.
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