Everything You Need to Know About Blood Clots

blood clot

Deep vein thrombosis or other blood clots can be a dangerous medical issue. Depending upon where the blood clot is in the body, it can lead to serious problems that send you to the emergency room, land you in the hospital, or result in treatment for the rest of your life. It’s important to not only know what the signs and symptoms of blood clots are, but to never hesitate to call for help with a medical alarm when you think you might be experiencing one.

How to Know If You Have a Blood Clot

Sometimes a blood clot will present with no symptoms. But in most cases, there are some warning signs that tell you trouble is brewing. Many blood clots begin as something called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in one of the deeper, larger veins of your body. This is why they usually show up in your legs and, more rarely, your arms.

The most common symptoms of a DVT include:

·         Swelling in your leg or arm. It’s usually just one leg or arm that swells, but in some cases, you might experience swelling in both.

·         Pain in your leg or arm. This usually happens where the swelling is. It can feel like an ache or a cramp. Sometimes people mistake a DVT for soreness, especially if they have been engaging in a lot of exercise.

·         Red or otherwise discolored skin. If your skin begins to turn something other than the normal color, especially if it happens where the swelling or aching is located, that’s a big warning sign.

·         Warmth in the affected area. When you touch the area that hurts, swells, or discolors, you are likely to feel a great deal of heat there. It will be warmer than the skin on other parts of your arm or leg.

What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis can be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which you can’t control. You might have medical conditions that make your blood more likely to clot. You might have recently gone through an invasive medical procedure, such as surgery, that leaves you more prone to blood clots for a period of time while you heal. 

It can also happen after an accident or fall, if you don’t move from one position for a long time, when you’re traveling over a great distance and sitting in a plane or vehicle for several hours at a time, or when you’re on bed rest and not moving around much.

Risk Factors for Developing a Blood Clot

In addition to the risk factors listed above (long travel, bed rest, etc.), there are other factors that can make you more prone to developing a blood clot in any area of the body. These include:

·         Your age. According to WebMD, adults over the age of 60 are more likely to develop a blood clot.

·         Being overweight. The extra weight puts pressure on the veins in your lower body, including your legs, which can make it tough for blood to flow normally.

·         Smoking. Lighting up affects everything about your circulation, which can lead to a host of problems, including a DVT.

·         Family history and genetics. If someone in your family has had a DVT, your odds of developing one are greater. Some people will also inherit disorders that can increase the risks even more, such as factor V Leiden – this makes the blood clot more easily.

·         Gender. The CDC reports that women over the age of 60 are more likely to have a venous thromboembolism (a DVT and pulmonary embolism) than men over the age of 60.

·         Heart failure. Limited heart and lung function can not only increase your risk but can make a pulmonary embolism much more severe.

·         Bowel diseases. The odds of DVTs are increased for those who have certain diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

·         Cancer. In some cases, it’s the cancer itself that makes the blood clot more readily. In other cases, it’s the treatment to fight the cancer that causes the greater risk.

·         Hormone replacement therapy. This treatment can make it easier for your blood to clot.

·         Pregnancy or birth control pills. Those who are pregnant experience increased pressure on the veins in their legs and pelvis, which can lead to clots. Some birth control pills have been known to have blood clots as an adverse, yet rare, side effect. 

If you have any of these risk factors, consider protecting yourself with a medical alert wristwatch or pendant. Since you are at higher risk for blood clots and the dangers that come with them, it makes sense that you would want the peace of mind of medical alert technology to get immediate help to you when seconds count. This is especially important for seniors aging in place who might not have a caregiver nearby 24/7.

What to Do If You Have a Blood Clot

If you believe you have a DVT, contact your doctor immediately. Explain your symptoms. It’s quite likely they will ask you to come in right away to be checked out. The doctor will do several things to check for a blood clot, including:

·         D-dimer test. This is a blood test that measures a type of protein that the blood clots produce. Increased levels of D-dimer can indicate a blood clot somewhere in the body.

·         Ultrasound. An ultrasound is a simple, non-invasive, painless procedure that uses sound waves to create pictures of what’s happening in your body. This is the standard test for the diagnosis of a DVT.

·         MRI. A magnetic resonance imaging scan is often used if there is evidence of a blood clot, such as through the D-dimer test, but the clot doesn’t appear on ultrasound. It might be in your abdomen. The MRI can help doctors find it.

·         Venography. This is a more invasive procedure where dye is injected into a vein and x-rays are taken to help find blood clots. Because MRIs and ultrasounds are very good at finding DVTs, this procedure is rarely performed these days.

Though there are obviously many good reasons to get emergency alarms for seniors, many people choose to get the alert after they have already dealt with a medical scare. If you haven’t read about life-saving alert systems for elderly adults yet, now is the time to do so. Don’t be left alone in an emergency!

When a Blood Clot Becomes an Emergency

When you have a DVT, prompt treatment can often remedy the situation. But sometimes, blood clots in the veins of your body can break away, travel through your bloodstream, and cause damage in other places. The most common problem is a blood clot getting stuck in your lungs and blocking the flow of blood. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a true emergency. If you feel any of the symptoms listed below, never hesitate to push the button on that medical alert device. Alert1 never charges members for multiple button pushes, so don’t worry about “false alarms.” It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

The warning signs of a pulmonary embolism include:

·         Sudden shortness of breath. This happens for no apparent reason – you could be simply sitting on the couch and suddenly feel unable to breathe.

·         Chest pain or discomfort. This pain will often worsen when you try to take a deep breath. It can also hurt worse when you cough.

·         Dizziness or fainting. Your body isn’t getting enough oxygen during a pulmonary embolism, so you might feel lightheaded, get dizzy, or faint.

·         Fast pulse. Your heart will be racing, so your pulse will be quick.

·         Rapid breathing. Your body is trying to get more oxygen, so your breathing will speed up.

·         Coughing up blood. You might feel a strong urge to cough, and when you do, you may cough up blood. This is your body trying its best to get rid of the blood clots that are blocking your lungs.

Remember, a pulmonary embolism can happen without any sign of a DVT. This is a life-threatening condition. Never hesitate to use your medical alert system if you feel these symptoms. That cannot be stressed enough! The Alert1 Medical Alert is your lifeline to trained professionals who know exactly what to do to help you.

What is the Treatment?

The treatment you’ll undergo for a DVT or pulmonary embolism depends upon your personal medical situation, but will most likely include blood thinners, or anticoagulants, that prevent clots from getting bigger or developing altogether. These are sometimes given in the hospital through an IV at first, and when you are discharged, you’ll go home with medications that can be taken by mouth. You might need to take anticoagulants for at least three months.

Clot busters, also known as thrombolytics, are often prescribed if anticoagulants aren’t working or you have a more serious blood clot. These are administered through a catheter straight to the clot itself.

If you can’t take these medications, your doctor might recommend a vena cava filter. This is inserted into the largest vein in your abdomen and prevents clots from moving through your body and lodging in your lungs.

One of the risks of taking blood thinners is the possibility of excessive bleeding, especially if you are injured. For instance, if you fall at home and hit your head or another body part on something hard – such as might happen if you fall in the shower – that internal injury could begin to bleed profusely. That’s another reason why it’s so important to be able to reach out in the event of an emergency. Alert1 offers the best emergency response solution for those moments when it matters most.

How to Reduce Your Odds of Developing Deep Vein Thrombosis

There are a few ways you can reduce your odds of developing a blood clot. It’s a good idea to do these things right now, before you show any signs of a blood clot. Choosing to take these routes to prevention can help your overall health as well.

·         Don’t sit down too long. If you can move around, do it! If you are accustomed to sitting down, set a timer and move every hour. Simply walking across the house and back can be enough to get the blood flowing properly. If you are traveling, make a point of moving around at least once an hour. And don’t cross your legs, as this can compress the veins.

·         Stop smoking. Smoking can affect everything about your health, including your risks of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Ask your doctor about a smoking cessation program.

·         Exercise and eat healthy. Make a point of getting regular exercise and making healthy food choices. If you have trouble with exercise, talk to your doctor about some easy motions and stretches you can do that will keep your body more active.

·         Manage your weight. If you are carrying extra weight, do your best to lose it. Not only does it help prevent blood clots, but it also has other benefits. For instance, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says you can expect your blood pressure to drop by one point for every two pounds you lose.

·         Take all medications as directed. Take all medications, not just those that might be prescribed for blood clots. All your medications work together to keep you healthy, and senior health care is vitally important.

If you have had a blood clot, there are other things you can do to reduce your risks of having another one. These include:

·         Avoid certain foods. If you are on medication for blood clots, keep in mind that some foods might interfere with it. For instance, you might need to avoid leafy greens, kale, or spinach.

·         Wear compression stockings. These stockings help keep blood from pooling in your legs. Wearing them can help avoid clots, and as an added bonus, they can be quite comfortable.

·         Watch for excessive bleeding. Be very careful to avoid even minor injuries when you are taking blood thinners. Always let your care team know you are on them, and be sure to tell your dentist and eye doctor, too.

Never Hesitate to Call for Help from Alert1

Though sometimes a DVT can grow slowly enough that you can notice it happening and get in to see your doctor right away, a pulmonary embolism is a different story. They usually come on quickly and can leave you gasping for breath, disoriented, and feeling chest pain. That’s the right time to hit the button on your emergency button alarm and get someone on the line who can help you when seconds count.

A pulmonary embolism can make it tough to talk. If you can’t speak, the trained professionals on the line can still get emergency services on the way and get in touch with those on your contact list. The panic button alarm is there for immediate help. Even if it turns out to be a “false alarm” you won’t be charged anything for using that emergency alert system and requesting assistance.

What if the dizziness of a pulmonary embolism takes you by surprise and you fall down? Or what if the pain in your leg from the DVT causes you to lose your balance? Even if you can’t speak or don’t have the ability to press the button, medical alert systems with fall detection can alert our Command Center and they can begin the process of getting you the help you need.

Whether you experience a blood clot emergency or any other issue requiring immediate attention, Alert1 is always just a button press away, 24/7/365.