Blood clots are your body’s natural response to an injury. They serve to stem the bleeding on a cut and seal off the wound so you can heal.
Your blood’s ability to clot is a good thing; however, the formation of a blood clot poses a risk when it blocks the flow of necessary blood to certain areas of your body. Should a blood clot break free and travel through a major artery, it becomes a sudden, and very dangerous threat to your life.
The causes of dangerous blood clots
Your blood can pool if it isn’t flowing well, forming a clot. A few different vascular conditions are also known contributors to the formation of blood clots in your limbs.
This is a disease in which the walls of your arteries become coated with a substance known as plaque. Plaque formations made up of cholesterol and fatty substances that stick together can cake the walls of an artery; if they break off, they can cause a rupture within the artery. This can trigger the body’s natural response to form a blood clot.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
A narrowing of the arteries in your body’s periphery — typically in your legs — is called peripheral artery disease. As the arteries narrow, it becomes increasingly difficult for blood to pass to critical areas of your body. If there is a rupture in the artery, a blood clot forms.
Usually, PAD is associated with atherosclerosis. If you notice that your legs are cold or numb, that wounds are slow to heal in your lower body, or that your toenails and leg hair are slow to grow, or if you’re a man experiencing erectile dysfunction, you may have PAD.
Deep vein thrombosis
Blood clots can form deep within the veins of your legs and break off. When the clot travels through the bloodstream, it can form an embolism in your lung, known as a pulmonary embolism. This highly critical condition requires immediate medical attention.
Warning signs of a blood clot
Blood clots, especially in your limbs, cause dangerous medical complications, and even can lead to death. Many people assume blood clots come on suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere and without warning. While many people don’t experience any symptoms, there are some warning signs.
These signs come on subtly over time or suddenly and severely. Recognizing the possible presence of a blood clot is instrumental in preventing life-threatening results. Be alert for these signs:
- Leg pain, such as cramping or a charley horse, from which there’s no relief; you may also experience a dull and constant aching deep within your legs, or a weakness, accompanied by pain, especially after exertion
- Swelling in your legs, especially the calf, feet, and ankles
- Legs inexplicably warm to the touch
- Discoloration to your skin — redness or what’s often described as a blue tinge to the legs is common when a blood clot is present
- Legs tender to the touch
Seek immediate medical attention for:
- Shortness of breath; trouble taking a breath
- Coughing, especially if you cough up blood
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or fainting
Don’t take any warning signs lightly. At Advanced Vein & Laser Center, we partner with you to determine the exact cause of your symptoms and develop a customized treatment plan to address blood clots and eliminate your health risks. Our doctors specialize in treating peripheral artery disease and a host of other venous issues.
If you live in the York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, areas, there’s no need to live with leg pain or the fear of developing blood clots in your legs. Contact Advanced Vein & Laser Center today by calling or using our online appointment request form, and let us put your fears to rest.