Watch out for an aching limb – it may be a dangerous blood clot, warns doctor
British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
While blood clots can prove useful, the ones that develop in your veins, also known as deep vein thrombosis, can be harmful.
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short, can be serious because clots that reside in your veins can break loose.
The gel-like clumps can then travel through your bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs, blocking your blood flow.
This can be a recipe for life-threatening problems, requiring urgent medical attention, according to the NHS.
Fortunately, the first symptoms can sometimes crop up even before DVT develops, Dr Omar Abu-Bakr shared.
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The doctor, who is also a Consultant Venous Surgeon at The Whiteley Clinic, said: “This is why it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘silent’ condition.”
“[But] in some cases, people may experience warning signs or symptoms before the onset of DVT.”
One sign that could ring alarm bells and alert you to the pesky clots is pain or discomfort in your leg, according to the expert.
This sign can become especially apparent during prolonged sitting or standing.
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“This symptom may [also] be a sign of underlying venous insufficiency or other conditions that increase the risk of DVT,” Dr Abu-Bakr said.
While around 50 percent of patients with blood clots experience symptoms, warning signs are sometimes reluctant to appear.
The doctor said: “Which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “silent” condition.
“It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have DVT, especially if you have any risk factors for the condition.”
This makes symptoms awareness front centre, so you can identify the red flags promptly if they do appear.
Apart from discomfort in your leg, blood clots can trigger symptoms including:
- Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
- Sudden breathlessness
- Sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in)
- Cough or coughing up blood.
The good news is that there are several ways to reduce your risk of the gel-like clumps cropping up in your veins.
The doctor recommended the following strategies:
- Use compression stockings to help improve blood flow in the legs (particularly helpful when it comes to long-haul flights)
- Stay active to address DVT risk factors by helping you maintain a healthy weight, boosting circulation, improving lung function, and strengthening muscles
- Stay hydrated to reduce the risk of blood thickening
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing (if you sit or stand for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and move around).
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