Blood clots in the lower part of the body can appear in the veins or the arteries of the legs. But regardless of whether they are in the vein or the artery, once they form or rise above the knee area, they are a source of concern due to their ability to create life-threatening symptoms.
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Blood clot symptoms
Symptoms of blood clots above the knees are usually a serious cause for concern. Symptoms can include: pain, swelling, cramps, warmth, inflammation, infection, a skin discolouration, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke.
When a blood clot above the knee (and located in a deep vein) does not dissolve itself, it inevitably will flow towards the lungs as it follows the normal blood flow direction. Once in the lung, if the clot is large enough, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, effectively stopping the blood flow to the lung. A pulmonary embolism not only causes breathing problems and chest pain, it can kill the individual experiencing it, if it is large enough.
Blood clots above the knee (and located in a coronary artery, not a vein) that do not dissolve before reaching the heart, may also create serious problems that are life-threatening. Once this clot reaches the heart, it must also bypass any plaque build-up that exists in the artery. If the clot or plaque is small enough, the clot may flow through without difficulty. If not, total blockage is possible, effectively cutting off the heart's blood supply to that portion of the heart's muscle; killing it. This will result in a heart attack.
The blood clot that finds its way successfully through a coronary artery must still navigate through the carotid artery as well, if it does not dissolve first. Therefore, if it has not dissolved before reaching the carotid artery - and it ends up blocking the blood supply to the brain - there is the potential for either a mini-stroke (if it is a partial blood supply blockage) or a complete stroke (if it totally blocks the blood flow).
Almost 50 per cent of people with blood clots in a deep vein do not have any symptoms. However, the other half who does have symptoms is encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible due to the serious conditions that can develop from a pulmonary embolism. Likewise, those who have artery clots are encouraged even more to do so, since heart attack and stroke can also be fatal or completely debilitating if they are allowed to occur.
The medical community encourages those who think they have a blood clot to seek medical attention as soon as possible, since early detection and treatment with an anticoagulation medication can aid tremendously in dissolving the clot and preventing serious harm to the individual's health and life.
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