Because blood clots are often life-threatening and can even lead to sudden death, knowing the warning signs can save your life or the life of a loved one. Many people with blood clots brush off the symptoms and assume that pain or shortness of breath relates to something minor, but that can be a fatal mistake.
Women are especially prone to deep vein thrombosis, which can send small blood clots to the lungs. People who smoke, take birth control pills, use hormone replacement therapy, or have injured their legs also have an increased risk of sustaining a blood clot.
Swelling and Pain in the Leg
Most blood clots occur first in the leg before breaking off in pieces and traveling to the lungs. If you can recognize the blood clot in your leg, you can save yourself from a great deal of worry and pain. If your leg is swollen, considerably warmer than the other leg and has areas of redness, consult a medical professional.
Shortness of Breath and Faster Breathing
Patients with a blood clot may never experience symptoms until smaller clots break off from a larger clot and travel to the lungs. At this point, a patient may experience shortness of breath. Many people write off this symptom simply as a sign of their lack of exercise, but shortness of breath in combination with other blood clot symptoms justifies a doctor’s visit.
Sharp Chest Pain
This pain often occurs under the chest bone or to the side of the chest when the blood clot reaches the lungs. It may feel like a burning, stabbing, aching or heavy sensation. Patients with this symptom should prepare to see their physician, and if the pain becomes severe enough, head to the emergency room.
Increased Pain During Movement
If you are experiencing pain in the chest that increases when you bend over, cough, laugh or move your chest in any way, you might have a blood clot that has reached your lungs. Once a blood clot reaches the lungs, your heart rate picks up dramatically, which can cause you to panic. If you find yourself continuously experiencing an inexplicably increased heart rate, going immediately to the emergency room can give the medical staff enough time to assess the problem before it causes much damage.
If you have a severe cough that seems to have come out of nowhere, it could indicate that a small piece of the blood clot has made it to your lungs. Coughing up blood is always a very serious issue, especially if you suspect you might have a blood clot. Blood-covered mucus is also a cause for concern. If the cough does not go away, seek medical attention.