British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
Blood clots can lay the groundwork for serious health problems, ranging from heart attacks to strokes. Therefore, it’s important to identify the gel-like clumps promptly in order to minimise the risk of this happening. Ena Wanliss, who experienced travel-related blood clots twice in her life, shared what to look for.
After coming back from an eight-hour road trip to Florida in 2007, Ena was struck by the first warning sign that alerted her to something being wrong.
She started to feel discomfort in her right calf that wouldn’t budge.
Eventually, Ena noticed that her calf was also swelling up and it felt warm to the touch.
She went to see a doctor, who told her: “I don’t want to scare you, but you may have a blood clot.”
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Ena was immediately sent to the hospital, where further tests confirmed the gel-like clumps.
Despite being given blood-thinning medicine, she began experiencing severe chest pains when she returned home that same night.
After speaking to her brother, who is also a doctor, Ena returned back to the emergency department.
Another set of tests revealed that a blood clot had dislodged from her leg and travelled to her lung.
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Symptoms like Ena experienced are considered some of the tell-tale signs of blood clots.
The NHS explains that key symptoms of a blood clot can include:
- Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
- Sudden breathlessness
- Sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood.
The health service recommends getting advice from 111 because blood clots can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.
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After being discharged from the hospital, Ena was monitored for further six months until her blood clot had disappeared and she was able to stop taking the medicine.
However, her return from a 10-hour trip to Hawaii in 2017 saw the woman experience another case of harmful clots.
Ena, who was feeling unwell and sweating heavily, suddenly passed out while sitting at her kitchen table.
Her daughter immediately called an ambulance and Ena was taken to the emergency department once again.
The woman now has to take blood-thinning medicine for the rest of her life.
Ena, who shared her story with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered the following tips when it comes to the gel-like clumps:
- “Don’t ignore any pain you feel” – address this right away with your doctor
- Watch out for the warning signs and symptoms
- Be aware that travel lasting longer than four hours is a risk factor for blood clots – be sure to move your legs frequently to help prevent blood clots
- Know your family history – this information can be valuable to discuss with your doctor
- If you have previously experienced a blood clot, take protective measures, as prescribed by your doctor, to do all you can to prevent future blood clots.
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