How much do you know about blood clots? Are you worried about your risk of developing one, or wondering what a blood clot in your leg might feel like? Blood clots are relatively common, but understanding their risk factors and their symptoms can help you prevent them — and seek immediate treatment if you do develop one.
Venous Thromboembolism: A Closer Look at Blood Clots
The medical term for a blood clot is venous thromboembolism, and it is relatively common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 900,000 Americans experience this each year, and as many as 100,000 people die 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) also ups your risk.
Other risk factors include:
- A recent injury to the leg
- Traveling for extended periods of time
- Medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and sickle cell disease
- Being a woman (as well as being pregnant or having recently delivered a baby)
- Taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
- Being over the age of 60
- Being obese or overweight
- An inactive lifestyle
- Varicose veins (while most varicose veins don’t cause a blood clot, a large untreated varicose vein can increase your risk of a blood clot)
- A family history of blood clots
What Does a Blood Clot in Your Leg Feel Like?
The more risk factors you have, the more likely you may be to develop a blood clot. (However, people with no risk factors can still have a clot.) A deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the body — typically in the leg, but also sometimes in the arm. Not every blood clot produces symptoms, but if it does the symptoms can 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
While the sensation may feel like a pulled muscle or cramp, you should contact your doctor as soon as you can. Prompt treatment can help prevent a blood clot from getting worse. If a clot breaks off and travels to the lung, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, or PE.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism (PE) 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
A PE is a medical emergency. Call 911 or an ambulance immediately if you have these symptoms so that you can receive treatment.
What to Do if You Have Pain in Your Leg
If you think you may have a blood clot, you should seek medical care as soon as you can. And if you have symptoms that concern you, including varicose veins, or questions about blood clots or vein health, contact USA Vein Clinics.
At USA Vein Clinics, we specialize in vein health and treat vein problems of all kinds, including blood clots and related issues. Our experienced physicians will diagnose any vein health issues and create a customized treatment plan, working with you every step of the way. Contact one of our clinics by calling 888.768.3467 or clicking the button below.