EGRMC and Dr Scott Mikell advise on the importance of learning your risk factors to prevent life-threatening blood clots:
The pandemic has heightened attention to the dangers of blood clots including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and clot-provoked stroke. According to the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA), blood clots kill 274 Americans each day when they restrict blood flow and cause a medical emergency. While different types of blood clotting are being reported among people affected by COVID-19, particularly those who become severely ill after infection with the virus, everyone is at risk for blood clots regardless of age, gender or race.
Obesity, smoking, hypertension and a personal or family history of blood clots increase your chances of developing clots. Women’s risk is increased by birth control pills, pregnancy and hormone replacement therapy. People at the highest risk include those with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation (a-Fib), cancer, traumatic injury, lengthy immobility and surgery.
Three steps can help with prevention of blood clots – maintain a healthy weight, stay hydrated and move regularly. Drinking plenty of water and fluids helps keep your blood from thickening. Particularly when sitting for long periods such as on flights or car trips, get up and walk every 60 to 90 minutes and stretch your calf muscles frequently to keep the blood flowing in your legs.
Individuals with aFib should talk with their primary care physician about the benefits and risks of taking a blood thinner to reduce the risk of clots and stroke.
“Blood clots can create a medical emergency – so actions you can take to reduce your risk are definitely worthwhile. It’s important to talk with your doctor about your family history and whether you need extra medical help to minimize your chances of blood clots,” said Scott Mikell, M.D., family medicine physician with East Georgia Medical & Surgical Associates, Statesboro Family Practice.
Know the symptoms so you can get help quickly, potentially saving your life or the life of a friend or family member. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documents symptoms for blood clots in deep veins of your leg and thighs include increased leg swelling, skin that is warm to the touch, red or discolored, pain in a leg that feels like a pulled muscle but not caused by injury, tightness, cramping or soreness, or a throbbing sensation. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, alert your doctor as soon as possible.
“When discovered early, blood clots are treatable. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the symptoms,” said Dr. Mikell.
The most common signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot that is blocking blood flow in the lungs are difficulty breathing, chest pain that worsens with a deep breath or cough, coughing up blood and a faster-than-normal or irregular heartbeat. Seek medical treatment immediately when you experience any of these signs and symptoms.
If you need help finding a primary care physician, visit EastGeorgiaMedSurgAssociates.com to be connected with one of East Georgia Medical & Surgical Associates’ qualified primary care physicians.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/
- National Blood Clot Alliance – https://www.stoptheclot.org/