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5 Signs There's a Blood Clot Inside You

Blood clots don’t discriminate, so learn the signs.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

According to the CDC, 900,000 Americans are affected by blood clots (venous thromboembolism) every year. "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 you have a dangerous blood clot, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Pain and Swelling

Tired woman touching her ankle, suffering from leg pain because of uncomfortable shoes, feet pain wear high heel shoes

Pain, swelling, and redness in the arms or legs that doesn't go away could be a sign of blood clotting. "A blood clot is almost always in one leg, not both," says vascular medicine specialist Geoffrey Barnes, M.D. "We're talking significant swelling, not just ankle swelling." 


Shortness of Breath

Young woman feeling sick and holding her chest in pain at home.

If you are experiencing unexplained shortness of breath, don't ignore it. "Shortness of breath can be a symptom of many conditions that affect the heart or lungs," says Anjali Vaidya, MD, FACC, FASE, FACP. "But, it's an especially alarming symptom for my patients who previously had a blood clot in their lungs, called a pulmonary embolism (PE). For these patients, shortness of breath can be a symptom of a serious condition called chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, or CTEPH for short. Without treatment, CTEPH can lead to heart failure and even death."


Chest Pain

Woman touching her heart while sitting at the table in her big 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."

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Spasms and Cramps

Senior fitness woman injury knee pain while exercising in gym. aged lady suffering from Arthritis . Old female workout .Mature sport training.rehabilitation.elderly osteoarthritis Healthy lifestyle

If you are experiencing spasms and cramps that don't go away, it could be a blood clot. "Once the pain begins, it's generally consistent and does not let up," says vascular surgeon Lee Kirksey, M.D.

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COVID-19 and Blood Clots

Doctor and covid-19 infected patient in bed in hospital.

The COVID-19 virus is linked to an increased risk of blood clots, doctors warn. "COVID-19 damages the endothelium (the cellular lining of blood vessels)," says Ali Aminian, MD, Director of the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. "Autopsies have shown that blood clots and widespread severe endothelial damage are two of the causes of increased mortality in many patients who contract COVID-19."

RELATED: I'm a Virus Expert and if You Have This Symptom, Get Help


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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