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Symptoms of a "Deadly Blood Clot" You Need to Know

This is what a blood clot feels like.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Approximately 900,000 Americans a year are affected by blood clots, resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths. "Everyone has different symptoms that can range from none to severe," says vascular medicine specialist Michael Tran, DO. "But there are common signs and symptoms of blood clots to be aware of." Here are five signs of blood clots, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Swelling and Leg Pain

Swollen feet

Swelling and leg pain that stays consistent could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). "Blood clot symptoms don't come and go quickly," says Dr. Tran. "They stay." Changes in varicose veins (for example hardening or bulging) could also be a sign of a blood clot.


Shortness of Breath and Chest Pain

Businesswoman feeling chest pain while working in the office.

"It may feel like a shooting pain that starts in your front and travels to the back in the chest area," says Dr. Tran. "You may also feel chest heaviness or pressure that lasts. If it's just fleeting, goes away and doesn't happen again, you're probably not dealing with a blood clot. Breathlessness or becoming easily winded with mild exertion will last for hours, even days, if there is a blood clot. If you feel breathless for a second and then you're OK, it's probably not."


Coughing Up Blood

Man sneezing into his elbow.

Coughing up blood could be a sign of a blood clot in the lungs. "Symptoms of a DVT include swelling of the affected leg, pain, redness, warmth and new visible veins in the area," says Clare Harris, NP. "Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest pain, cough or coughing up blood and fast breathing."


Blood Clots and COVID-19

Healthcare worker with protective equipment performs coronavirus swab on a woman.

Doctors are finding an increased risk of large blood clots found in the lungs and legs of people with COVID-19, even in younger people who wouldn't usually be at risk.  "It's likely a direct effect of COVID-19," says cardiologist Jonathan Paul, MD.

"When you, say, fall and skin your knee, it turns your immune system on, and one of the ways your immune system reacts to an injury is by making your clotting system more active," says Matthew Exline, MD. "It kind of makes sense that your body would say, if I see an infection, I need to be ready to clot. But when the infection is as widespread and inflammatory as COVID-19, that tendency to clot can become dangerous."


What's Your Blood Type?

Type A+ blood tube

Blood types A, B, or AB are associated with a higher risk of blood clots and stroke. "While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease," says Lu Qi, Ph.D. "It's good to know your blood type in the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. If you know you're at higher risk, you can reduce the risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating right, exercising, and not smoking."


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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