Blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism, are a relatively common, treatable occurrence. Nevertheless, when a blood clot develops in a leg, arm, or elsewhere in the body, it is considered a serious health issue. Understanding the signs and symptoms of blood clots can help you know when to seek potentially life-saving treatment. If you suffer from vein disease, you may be at increased risk of developing blood clots. Below, we discuss risk factors, symptoms, and potential complications of venous thromboembolism. For additional information, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 Americans are impacted by venous thromboembolism each year. Approximately 60,000-100,000 people die each year as a result.
While anyone can develop a blood clot, there are some significant risk factors that make you more likely to have one. The most significant is a recent surgery or hospitalization; about half of the people who experience a blood clot have had one or both. Being immobile (such as during an illness) can also raise your risk.
Other risk factors for developing blood clots include:
- A recent injury to the leg
- Traveling for extended periods of time
- Underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and sickle cell disease
- Being a woman
- Pregnancy and recent childbirth
- Taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
- Being over age 60
- Being obese or overweight
- An inactive lifestyle
- Varicose veins
- A family history of blood clots
If you are at risk due to any of the above factors, you may benefit from close monitoring and minimally invasive vein treatment, performed by a vein specialist.
What Does a Blood Clot in Your Leg Feel Like?
Unfortunately, the more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop a blood clot. However, keep in mind that people with no risk factors at all can still develop one. Another thing to know is that some types of blood clots are more serious than others. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the body. Most often, the legs are affected. You may be wondering, can you feel a blood clot in your leg? Although not every blood clot produces symptoms, common ones include:
- Swelling in the leg or arm
- Pain in your leg that may feel like a cramp
- Skin discoloration
- Skin that is warm to the touch
Since some blood clots in the legs feel like a pulled muscle or cramp, it is important to seek medical evaluation when symptoms are present. Prompt treatment can help prevent a blood clot from getting worse. It can also prevent a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism, which is when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels to the lung. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism can include:
- Sharp chest pain that may be worse when you breathe deeply
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Sudden cough, sometimes accompanied by bloody mucus
Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.
Lower Your Risk for Blood Clots at USA Vein Clinics
To prevent blood clots from developing, we recommend consulting one of our leading vein specialists at USA Vein Clinics. Our doctors can evaluate your overall vein health and make personalized treatment recommendations. Our experts offer a range of minimally invasive, outpatient vein treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, restless legs, and other venous issues. Our treatments can alleviate painful and uncomfortable leg symptoms, reduce the risk of blood clots and venous ulcers, and improve your quality of life. To get started, connect with a specialist today at 888.768.3467 or schedule an appointment online.