Blood clots are both life altering and life threatening. If they don’t dissolve on their own, they can be silent killers traveling to the brain, heart, or lungs and potentially cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism.
Blood clots can form in the arteries or veins responsible for transporting blood throughout the human body. Veins transport blood to the heart, while arteries carry it away from the heart to other parts of the system.
DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, occurs when a blood clot forms within a vein, typically within the leg. In some cases, the clot might form in an arm or another part of the body. Deep vein thrombosis can cause pulmonary embolisms – a clot breaking up and traveling to the lungs.
An arterial clot (also called arterial thrombosis) can develop in an artery due to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls, and block or restrict the blood flow. If such a clot breaks loose or travels, it can cause a heart attack, stroke, or damage to other organs.
Both types of clots restrict normal blood flow. They can occur anywhere in the human body and can result in the symptoms below. If you experience any of them, contact your doctor immediately.
Swelling in the arms or legs might be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis. It usually occurs on one side of the body.
If you notice one area of the skin on an arm or leg is red or blue, this could be a blood clot caused by DVT. By contrast, pale skin patches could be an indication of arterial embolism, which is the result of an arterial clot that travels to an arm or leg.
3. Chest pain with or without coughing
Sometimes symptoms of DVT can be absent until the clot travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This usually results in sharp, stabbing-like chest pains which are even worse when accompanied by a cough. Watch out for coughing that is accompanied by chest pain, difficulty breathing, or a bloody discharge.
4. Shortness of breath
One of the most common symptoms, when a blood clot breaks off and moves to the lungs, is that the patient will often experience shortness of breath. It is sometimes accompanied by a cough.
5. Dizziness or fainting
Dizziness or fainting could be signs that a clot has broken free, causing low blood pressure, and feelings of weakness or loss of consciousness.
6. Extreme fatigue
Weakness and fatigue could be a sign of DVT/pulmonary embolism. Loss of breath during physical activities such as climbing stairs is one example. If you feel fatigue in addition to any of the other symptoms, consult a doctor right away.
Depending on where the blood clot is located, there might be pain in the calves (leg), arms, abdomen, or head. Muscle cramps or spasms may also be present.
8. Skin temperature changes
In cases of DVT, a limb is typically warm to the touch or has a warm sensation normally isolated to the section of the skin where the clot is located.
With arterial clots, the lack of oxygen flowing through the body may cause one to experience coolness in the arms, legs, fingers or toes.
When a blood clot breaks and enters the bloodstream, it can cause the body temperature to spike. Look out for a fever with a sudden onset.
The following factors increase the risk of getting a blood clot:
Being sedentary/physically inactive
Injury at the site like a concussion
* This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances.