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Blood Clots and Your Legs

Blood clots in the legs are a much more common condition than many people realize. According to the National Institute of Health estimates, some two million Americans develop such blood clots each year.

The medical name for such clots is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and it is a condition which can have serious health implications. A blood clot in the leg can hamper or even block circulation within the leg. The result can be considerable pain, or even the death of tissue that is deprived of its normal blood flow.

An even bigger threat can occur when such a clot breaks loose, moves through the circulatory system and becomes lodged in another location. The most common complication of blood clots are pulmonary embolisms which occur when a blood clot breaks free from a vein and travels to the lung where there is a high risk of its blocking an artery.

The Symptoms of Blood Clots in the Leg

Because clotting is an important normal function of our blood, in actuality most of us develop small blood clots rather regularly. In most cases, such clots are quickly dissolved by the body and present no health risk.

But when a larger clot develops deep within a vein the risk increases for potential health problems. In such cases there may be a variety of symptoms that may occur as indications of the problem. They can include tenderness, redness, pain, fever, and swelling. Sometimes there will be a rapid heartbeat, joint pain and soreness, or even a sudden and unexplained cough.

While none of these symptoms by itself is a sure indicator of a blood clot, any of them is worth discussing with your physician, particularly if you are over the age of 60 (blood clots can occur at any age, but are most common in those over 60), are pregnant or have activities or past medical history that might make the formation of blood clots more likely.

Diagnosing a blood clot is a job for your physician. There are simple in-office tests that can give a primary indication of whether a DVT might be present, but most likely an ultrasound of the leg, or an x-ray flowing an injection of dye so that blood flow can be monitored, will be necessary.

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