How do you know if you have a blood clot? 

Read Vascular Cures Patient Partner Linda’s Story

What is a blood clot?

I begin my story with a visit to my medical doctor with a warm spot near my ankle. My doctor diagnosed it as gout and administered a course of steroids. This seemed to do the trick and soon I was back to my usual exercise routine, which included walking around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. One evening, several months later, I was walking at the Rose Bowl and was almost back to where my friends were waiting when I suddenly felt lightheaded, cold and clammy, and needed to sit down immediately. I sat for a while and then got up to finish my walk.  

I made it to the parking lot when my friend pulled up next to me. He had come looking for me because it had taken longer than expected. I got in, reassured him I was okay and still wanted to go out with our friends. He decided, after noticing how pale I was, that I needed to be taken to the hospital. By the time I got there, I was unable to exit the car on my own or stand at all and was immediately admitted.  

The admitting doctors treated me for a possible heart attack, giving me medicine to prevent this. I was taken for an x-ray and CT scan and was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and a deep vein thrombosis. I was informed that I had numerous blood clots in my lungs and was prescribed Warfarin. It was decided that the birth control YAZ, which I was taking to prolong an early onset menopause, was the cause of my clots. 

I was in the hospital for one week while they monitored my blood. I was also experiencing spots in front of my eyes and the attending doctor was concerned. Finally, a brain scan was ordered and, thankfully, they determined that there was nothing to cause concern. The spots, they decided, were hormonal, possibly from discontinuing the birth control prescription.

When I was at home, I was admittedly afraid. I live alone and was never sure if a clot would dislodge and travel upward. On the advice of my doctor, I was not allowed to do laundry, unload the dishwasher, etc. I was placed on Coumadin, which I took for a year. I was extremely careful and eventually my life returned to normal.

What is a blood clot?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, commonly referred to as “DVT,” occurs when a blood clot or thrombus, develops in the large veins of the legs or pelvic area.

What is a blood clot?

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is a blood clot that lodges in the lung arteries.

“To date, because of my experience with blood clots, I have become bolder when I visit the doctor. I am not afraid to ask questions and get clarification when needed. The possibility of future blood clots does linger in the back of my mind, but I have chosen to live my life as if it does not. And, in case you are wondering, I am still walking around the Rose Bowl and enjoy every minute! “
Linda’s Story

How do you know if you have a blood clot?

Most Common Signs and Symptoms: Deep Vein Thrombosis

These symptoms can develop slowly or suddenly. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Sudden swelling of one limb
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Skin that is warm to the touch
  • Fullness of the veins just beneath the skin
  • Change in color (blue, red or very pale)
Most Common Signs and Symptoms: Pulmonary Embolism

PE can be fatal, if you experience these signs or symptoms seek medical attention right away.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden chest pain
  • A feeling of apprehension
  • Sudden collapse
  • Coughing
  • Sweating
  • Blood phlegm (coughing up blood)

The signs and symptoms of these disorders (DVT and PE) can vary by individual and event. Some individuals may also experience uncommon symptoms such as dizziness, back pain or wheezing.

Note: this blogpost was developed through a generous grant from Inari Medical.