Health News Articles

Protect Yourself Against Dangerous Blood Clots

Feb 11, 2014
The ability of your blood to clot can stop potentially dangerous bleeding when you suffer an injury or cut. But clots that form unrelated to an injury can be life threatening—causing a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism. 

“When a clot forms in an artery or vein there is always a risk that it will dislodge and cause serious damage to an organ,” says Qian Wang, MD, a physician with Princeton Medicine specializing in internal and geriatric medicine and board certified in internal medicine. “The risk is greatest for people with a family history of clots; heart, artery or blood disorders; or diabetes. But there are many other things that can put you at risk, including taking certain medications or hormones such as estrogen, pregnancy, being overweight, smoking and even dehydration.” 

To reduce your risk of developing a blood clot, maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and pay attention to your body. “The key to spotting excessive blood clotting is to be aware of your level of risk, take note of any changes in your body, and seek medical attention when you notice something unusual,” says Dr. Wang. 

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck or jaw can be signs of a blood clot in the heart or lungs, which can result in a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, leading to damage to the lungs. Pain, redness, warmth and swelling in your lower leg can be a sign of a blood clot in the leg, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can also cause a pulmonary embolism. 

If you have symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, call your physician. You should seek emergency care if, along with DVT, you develop chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or if you begin coughing up blood. 

“Discuss your risk factors with your doctor,” says Dr. Wang. “Regular checkups and honesty about your lifestyle and new or changing health conditions, even if they seem minor, can be extremely important.” 

For assistance finding a physician affiliated with Princeton HealthCare System, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit www.princetonhcs.org.