Skip to main content

We’ve updated our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. By using this site, you agree to these terms.

Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Knowing the key symptoms of blood clots empowers you to safeguard your health. Learn how to detect blood clots as early as possible.

Along with carrying oxygen throughout your body, your blood protects you by forming clots when you’re injured. But not all blood clots are good. What about blood clots that work against you?

How do blood clots form?

Most blood clots help you heal. But your body may also form clots when they aren’t needed. These blood clots can be broken into two categories: 

  • Thrombosis – Stationary clots that don’t travel through your blood vessels
  • Embolus – A clot that breaks free and moves through your blood vessels to another part of your body

“Blood clots can form in your arteries or your veins,” says Dr. Gregory Salzler, vascular surgeon at Geisinger Medical Center. And there are several ways that they can form.

“When your blood flows slowly or stops flowing through your veins, blood clots can occur. Varicose veins are also sometimes connected to blood clots. Blood clots related to plaque that builds up in your artery walls — atherosclerosis — can also form when your blood pools in your arteries or heart. This can happen if you have high cholesterol or smoke,” says Dr. Salzler.

Conditions that can develop as a result of blood clots include:

What are the symptoms of blood clots?

While not all symptoms make themselves known, there are still some key signs you can look for to determine whether you may have a blood clot. These symptoms may come on suddenly and get worse quickly.

Symptoms of blood clots include:

  • Blue, purple or red tint to skin
  • Leg pain
  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Warm skin around discoloration

 If a blood clot has moved to your lungs, you may experience:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain when you breathe
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pain in your chest
  • Coughing up blood

“You may be at a higher risk of developing a blood clot if you live a sedentary lifestyle, have had an injury, especially to your leg — where clots are most likely to form — or have a family history of blood clots or vascular disease,” says Dr. Salzler. Other risk factors include:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Long travel
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Taking certain medications
  • Pregnancy

 Treating blood clots

Treatment for blood clots depends on where the clot is located and often includes using catheters to open the blood vessels or arteries, allowing blood to flow freely again. Blood thinners are also given, either as an oral medication or through an IV, to treat clots.

In severe cases, your doctor may perform an endovascular procedure, which is a less invasive procedure that will remove the blood clot to open the blood vessels. Varicose veins are treated with minimally invasive procedures to remove these painful veins.

The key is knowing your risk factors — it can make all the difference in the proper diagnosis and treatment of blood clots and vascular diseases.

“If you have any risk factors, or are experiencing symptoms of blood clots, talk with your doctor,” says Dr. Salzler. “They’ll make sure to come up with a treatment plan to treat your blood clots or vascular disease, and help you know what steps to take to help keep any future clots from forming.”

Next steps:
Make an appointment with Dr. Gregory Salzler, MD
Learn more about vascular disease

Content from General Links with modal content