Blood Clots Can Kill. Who Is At Risk?

A Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the leg or arm. If untreated, it can dislodge and move to the lungs where it becomes a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). A Pulmonary Embolism can be fatal and is sometimes called the silent killer (as it may be present without any symptoms).

Who is at risk for getting a DVT?
Sedentary individuals (as this causes decreased circulation)
Traveling individuals (for example, driving or flying for many hours at a time)
Hospitalized individuals (higher risk if they are mostly lying in bed)
Side effect of certain medications (for example, some birth control pills)
Individuals with recent surgery (blood thinners are usually prescribed for DVT prevention)
Elderly individuals (especially if they are not very mobile)
Individuals with prior blood clot(s)
Dehydrated individuals
Individuals with cancer
Individuals with a recent injury to the arm or leg
Individuals with varicose veins
Women who are pregnant
Individuals with congestive heart failure (CHF)
Obese individuals
Individuals with sickle cell anemia
Individuals with an infection in the abdomen

What are the symptoms of a blood clot (DVT)?
Small area of pain in the calf, thigh, forearm or upper arm (ache or throb)
If DVT is in the leg, pain may increase with walking
Pain increases with putting pressure on that body part
Swelling in the affected body part
The skin of that area feels warm or hot
The skin of that area may look blue
May have no symptoms

What are the symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?
Unexplained shortness of breath, even without exercise or movement
Recent, unexplained pain in the leg or arm (possible undiagnosed DVT)
Fast breathing and fast heart beat
Unexplained fever
Worsening lung or heart conditions
May have no symptoms

What is the treatment for blood clots?
Blood thinners (medication)
Bed Rest for a few days (in the hospital)
Compression Stockings, leg/foot pumps (in hospital) or ace wrap 
Elevate the affected body part higher than the heart

How is a blood clot diagnosed?
Ultrasound/Doppler test of the affected body part

What should you do if you think you have a blood clot?
Go to the emergency room immediately!

Reference: Price, Sylvia & Wilson, Lorraine. Pathophysiology: Clinical Concepts of Disease Processes, 6th ed. 2003: Mosby. Pages 529-531, 603-605.

Published by

I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: