When you get a cut on your skin or a lesion inside your body, platelet blood cells and proteins in your plasma work together to form a clot and stop the bleeding. This healthy, natural process keeps you safe from excessive blood loss.
However, sometimes blood clots can cause more harm than good. For example, if a clot forms inside a blood vessel, it can block blood flow and cause life-threatening health complications such as a heart attack or stroke.
The symptoms of a dangerous blood clot depend on where the clot is located.
Blood Clot Near The Heart
Blood clots near your heart can potentially cause a heart attack.
Symptoms of a blood clot near the heart include:
- Chest pain or heaviness
- Upper body discomfort (such as arm or shoulder pain)
- Shortness of breath
Blood Clot in the Brain
When a blood clot forms in one of the veins or arteries supplying blood to your brain and blocks the flow of blood, it’s called a stroke. The clot may have formed after a head injury, or it may have formed in another part of the body and traveled through the bloodstream.
Signs of a blood clot in the brain include:
- Sudden or severe headache
- Facial weakness, or weakness of the arms, legs, or body
- Difficulty speaking
- Vision problems
Since a stroke is a medical emergency, it’s important to know the signs in case you or someone close to you needs help. Memorize the FAST acronym:
- Face: One side of the face droops. Ask the person to smile—it will be obvious.
- Arms: Can the person raise their arms usually, or are they too weak?
- Speech: Is the person’s speech slurred, stuttered, or confused?
- Time: Time is of the essence if the person shows any of these symptoms. Call 911 immediately.
Blood Clot in the Arms or Legs
A blood clot deep in the veins of your arms or legs is called a deep vein thrombosis. These clots can travel through the bloodstream and cause problems in other areas of the body.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:
- Soreness, dull aches, cramping, or severe pain
- Warm skin
Blood Clot in the Lungs
If a blood clot breaks off from your deep veins and travels to your lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism. This can be very serious because it can block blood flow and respiration.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Sharp chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Coughing up blood
Blood Clot in the Abdomen
Blood clots can also form in the veins and blood vessels that drain blood from your intestines.
Symptoms of an abdominal blood clot include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Bloody stool
- Bloated feeling
No matter where a blood clot forms in your body, it’s important to seek medical help immediately if you have any of the above symptoms. Blood clots can be life-threatening, and the sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of making a full recovery.