British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blood clots are extremely serious health ordeals that need to be treated as soon as possible. Being aware of the symptoms, or having someone around that does, in some cases can mean the difference between life and death. Some of these symptoms may arise in your “upper limbs”, primarily your arms, neck, and shoulders.

There are two main types of blood clots, that are grouped together based on what blood vessels they affect.

A blood clot in your artery is called an arterial clot. These can bring about a stroke or a heart attack.

But a blood clot in your vein is known as a venous clot. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is one type of venous clot.

One of the main dangers of DVT is that the clot breaks off from where it starts and spreads to your lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE affects roughly one in ten with DVT.

DVT normally affects the veins in people’s lower body, but in roughly 5 percent of cases, the clots may occur in your upper body, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Neck and shoulder pain

The first “common” sensation that can occur in your “upper limbs” is neck and shoulder pain, explains the charity Thrombosis UK.

The health body explains: “The most noticeable sign of deep vein thrombosis in the upper limbs is a sharp pain around the neck and shoulders.

“This might make movement difficult or impact your sleep.”

Moving pain in the arms

People with DVT in one of the veins in their upper body, may also experience “pain in their arms too”, explains the charity.

This typically starts in the upper arm, before moving to the forearm with time.

Arm swelling

“Similar to sufferers of DVT in their legs, patients might also experience swelling in their hands or arms,” explains Thrombosis UK.

“This is also typically unexplained, occurring suddenly and without an obvious cause.”

People may also notice a change in the colour of the areas of their body that are affected by a blood clot.

The colour may look like a pale blue, and will usually be accompanied by weakness.

According to the charity, people may struggle to do everyday activities such as picking up objects or opening a door.

It’s also worth being aware of the signs of a pulmonary embolism, just in case you or your doctor don’t attribute your symptoms to DVT, or you don’t notice any signs.

Spire Health explains: “If you experience trouble breathing it may be a sign that the clot has moved from your arm or leg to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism — you should get medical attention immediately.”

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut down your risk of suffering from DVT.

Frequent exercise is vital. Being inactive for a long time increases the chances of your blood clotting.

The website familydoctor.org recommends getting up every “hour or so” and walking around, or doing leg exercises.

The health portal also recommends making effort to stop smoking, lose weight if you are overweight and work to control your blood pressure.

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