March is Blood Clot Awareness Month and since I had a clot in my left lung last summer, this is a great time to share some life saving tips to my friends. 350,000 – 600,000 people in the United States develop blood clots every year. About 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from blood clots, which means that about 1 in 3 may die.
The difference between life and death is awareness of the symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention at an emergency room. Quick medical intervention is what saves lives. Another unfortunate occurrence is misdiagnosis – medical professionals confusing blood clot symptoms with other conditions like pneumonia.
Even if you do not personally experience symptoms, a friend or relative might and you can urge your loved ones to seek immediate medical attention. I choose to live and I want others to live long lives, too.
Blood clotting is your body’s natural way to prevent bleeding out when you sustain a serious cut or wound. Sometimes blood clots form when and where they are not supposed to, which could lead to pulmonary embolisms, strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood clots that are created inside a blood vessel,can cause swelling in your legs and travel up to vital organs. In my case, we’re not exactly sure, but my clot may have started in my leg when I bumped it on the edge of my bed, and then traveled up to my left lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. Link to my blood clot story: https://abundantlifeinitiative.com/2014/01/04/kimbery-jo-cooleys-blood-clot-story/
I am still on blood thinners, but I also say this affirmation: “My blood clots when and where it is supposed to.”
I am blessed with attentive and knowledgeable medical providers and a great resource in http://www.stoptheclot.org.
I have to emphasize there are some people who exhibit NO risk factors and still have spontaneous blood clots, which is why I find writing this blog post necessary. It’s still important to know the risk factors and critically important to know the symptoms.
According to Stop the Clot, the risk factors are:
- Family history of blood clots, especially in parents, sisters and brothers
- Recent hospital stay or surgery
- Chronic medical illness or long-term bed rest
- Limited ability to move
- Recent trauma or injury
- Cancer or cancer treatment
- Knee or hip replacement surgery
- Using birth control pills or hormone replacement
- Pregnancy or immediately after having a baby (C-Sections further increase this risk)
- Traveling more than 4 hours by plane, car, train or bus (without walking around)
Deep Vein Thrombosis: Signs and Symptoms
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs but sometimes in your arm.
- Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
- Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
- Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
- Leg (or arm) warm to touch
These symptoms of a blood clot may feel similar to a pulled muscle or a “Charlie horse,” but may differ in that the leg (or arm) may be swollen, slightly discolored, and warm. Contact your doctor if you have these symptoms, because you may need treatment right away.
Pulmonary Embolism: Signs and Symptoms
Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus
I now have to take frequent work breaks to walk around as I have a sedentary job where I sit for hours each day. I take blood thinners and go to my medical provider once a month to have my blood checked to ensure no blood clots will form based on my blood levels. It has been an eye opening experience, to say the least. But, I choose life. I choose to share what I’ve learned from my experience with others, so they can choose life, too.
~Your Curator of all things Abundant, Kimberly Jo Cooley
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2008.