How to Check for Blood Clots at Home
Performing blood clot checks is important because, if left untreated, clots can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and other serious problems.
Your cardiovascular system has many elements that work together to transfer blood, nutrients, and more throughout your body. Unfortunately, blood clots may form in your veins and arteries, introducing possible life-threatening complications. By knowing how to check for blood clots at home, you can catch potential problems early and avoid serious health risks.
The Basics About Blood Clots
A blood clot occurs when blood turns from a liquid into a semi-solid state. Clots often form due to injury, but they may also result from hypercoagulation or slow blood circulation. These hardened clumps of blood may remain stationary (thrombus) or break free and travel through the body (embolus).
Thrombosis can affect anyone, but some individuals are at a higher risk of blood clots. Most notably, those who smoke, take birth control, or are over 60 years old are at an increased risk of clotting. Other risk factors for blood clots include diabetes, trauma, pregnancy, obesity, certain cancers, chronic inflammatory diseases, and a family history of clots.
Blood Clot Symptoms to Check For At Home
Small blood clots will often go away naturally. However, it’s still important to perform checks frequently and have a basic understanding of what to look out for at home. If left untreated, blood clots can severely damage cells and tissues and lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and other serious problems.
Blood clot symptoms may vary since they can form or travel to many parts of the body, including:
The arms and legs: Blood clots are most frequently found in the lower leg, though they may also occur in the arm. If clots form in a deep vein, you may experience swelling, pain akin to muscle cramps, discoloration, soreness, or a pulmonary embolism.
The lungs: Often, clots found in the lungs originated in your arms or legs. After embolization, these clots can become lodged in your lung’s veins or arteries, causing sharp pain while you’re breathing, sudden shortness of breath, fever, unexplained sweating, dizziness, rapid pulse, and even hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the lungs).
The heart: Coronary thrombosis — when a heart’s veins or arteries are blocked by a blood clot — is a serious condition that can result in a heart attack. Symptoms include sweating, trouble breathing, and severe chest or arm pain.
The kidneys: Kidney blood clots can lead to high blood pressure, a buildup of waste in your body, and kidney failure. If you’re experiencing trouble breathing, high blood pressure, bloody urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, sudden and severe leg swelling, or pain in the side of your belly, thighs, or legs, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The abdomen: Liver disease, diverticulitis, and birth control pills can lead to blood clots in the abdomen. Mesenteric venous thrombosis occurs in the veins that drain blood from your intestines and can cause diarrhea, bloating, bloody stools, vomiting, nausea, and severe belly pain.
The brain: Blood clots in the brain can trigger a stroke. People suffering from brain blood clots may experience vision issues, a severe headache, speech problems, dizziness, or weakness in the face and arms.
Diagnosing Blood Clots
The diagnostic process may vary, but generally, your doctor will begin by performing a physical exam and asking questions about your symptoms. If they believe you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), they may order an ultrasound. To locate clots in the head, neck, chest, or abdomen, they may perform a CT angiography. Venography — a process that involves taking an x-ray after inserting a contrast dye into your veins — can give doctors more insight into your blood flow.
Preventing Blood Clots
Luckily, there are several steps you can take to prevent the formation of blood clots. Frequently changing positions when stationary and wearing loose-fitting clothes, socks, and stockings can help. If you’re bedridden, make sure to occasionally raise your legs six inches above your heart to encourage blood flow. Taking blood thinners like heparin or warfarin can also help prevent your blood from clotting.
Making lifestyle changes like drinking more water, eating five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day, cutting back on salty foods, limiting animal fat consumption, and exercising regularly may also help prevent blood clots.
Thrombolytics, or powerful clot-dissolving medications, can be directly delivered to a clot via a catheter or IV line. However, thrombolytics are often a last resort, as they may cause bleeding.
Instead, your doctor may recommend anticoagulants. These blood thinners may come in the form of a pill, an injection, or a liquid that slows clot growth and formation, giving your body time to break up these clots.
Wearing compression stockings can also help your body maintain a healthy blood flow. Having a small, wire mesh medical device inserted called vena cava filter can trap blood clots and prevent clots from traveling to your lungs.
Seek Treatment Today
If you have any symptoms of a blood clot, see a medical professional as soon as possible. Catching the problem early on will reduce the chances of your clot embolizing and causing lasting or life-threatening complications.
The Center for Vein Restoration is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by experienced medical professionals who have successfully treated countless patients with vein problems. Contact us today for a consultation.