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Blood Clot: Those Scary Words

I have patients walk into my office all of the time and say, “I’m afraid I have a blood clot.” Blood clots can be scary and life threatening, but if caught early they are very treatable. I never fault a patient for coming in thinking this, even if it is something else like an ankle sprain, because it is always better to be safe.

What is a Blood Clot?

A blood clot is coagulated blood stuck in a blood vessel.

What puts me at risk for blood clots?

  • surgery
  • smoking
  • long periods of immobilization (ie. short leg casts and long plane flights)
  • obesity
  • personal or family history
  • many more

Blood Clot

Blood clots are dangerous because if they get dislodged in your blood vessel, they can travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism can kill you. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are sudden shortness of breath, sharp chest pain, and increased coughing with deep breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Blood clots typically present in the legs with a very swollen, warm, red, tender calf. If a patient comes to my office with any these symptoms, I send them immediately to the emergency room or a medical imaging center for an ultrasound of their veins. This will confirm the diagnosis of a blood clot. If you do have a blood clot, you should go to the emergency room immediately to be started on anti-coagulation therapy. This is a long-term treatment that will help to thin the blood and break up the blood clot.

Tips to Prevent Blood Clots:

  • When you have a long flight, get up and walk around once per hour and wear compression socks
  • If you have recently had surgery and are able to walk, get up and move around. If you are told to stay off of your feet, bend you knee at your leg or curl your toes
  • Drink plenty of water

If you have any foot pain, call Hollowbrook Foot Specialists at (845) 298-9074 for an appointment. We are serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.

David Schlam

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