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Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots in the Veins and Arteries

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/25/2010

Blood clot signs and symptoms generally depend on where the blood clot occurs. In the veins, the affected area may seem warm and red, but in the arteries, the area may appear pale or white, and cool to the touch.

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    About Blood Clots

    A blood clot happens when blood platelets accumulate as a normal response to injury. When injury occurs in the skin, a platelet plug usually forms to prevent bleeding. Injury occurring in the veins and arteries, also results in clot formation in order to repair that injury. This is medically called thrombus formation. In some cases, thrombus forms in the veins and arteries for unknown reasons, or due to certain factors like immobility and atherosclerosis. When this happens, the flow or delivery of blood to certain body parts is decreased. This usually results in the manifestation of the different blood clot signs and symptoms seen in most affected patients.

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    Clot in the Veins

    A clot may develop in the veins of the arms or the legs. This can be due to genetic abnormality or can be brought about by immobilization seen in bedridden patients, people sitting during long trips, and orthopedic injury patients. Pregnancy may also increase risk of venous clot development.

    A clot in the vein can lead to decrease blood flow towards the heart. Clots in the superficial veins or veins just under the skin, may not pose much danger to a person. But the presence of blood clot in the deep veins of the leg can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms commonly seen are redness, pain, swelling and warmth in the affected limb. These symptoms may gradually develop over the span of several hours.

    One complication of DVT is pulmonary embolism, which is often a life-threatening condition. This occurs when a small dislodged clot from the vein travels through the circulation and gets stucked in the lungs. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include sudden experience of chest pain that increases in severity with each breath, shortness of breath, cough and bloody sputum. Patient may also present with bluish lips, weakness and lightheadedness. This is often considered a situation which must be attended to immediately.

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    Clot in the Arteries

    The deposition of fats in the lining of the arteries can frequently cause injury in the area. As this happens, clot formation may develop and result in the narrowing of the said vessel, thus delivery of oxygenated blood toward the affected organ is decreased. When this occurs in the arms and legs, pain is often felt, as well as weakness and sensation deficit, and the area may look white and feel cold to the touch.

    If it affects arteries in the gastrointestinal tract, severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea may be observed in patients. When a blood clot occludes major vessels in the heart and brain, these can result in heart attack and in stroke, respectively. Symptoms of stroke include one-sided loss of sensation or paralysis, sometimes blindness, severe headaches, and unconsciousness. Heart attack symptoms include squeezing chest pain, jaw pain, weakness and nausea.

    The presence of blood clots in either the veins and arteries should be addressed with medical intervention in order to prevent untoward complications from happening. It is often best to seek medical consultation as soon as blood clot signs and symptoms are observed.

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