It’s hard to believe that every six minutes someone dies from a blood clot here in the United States. Blood clots are gel-like masses that form inside your arteries or veins anywhere in the body.

Blood clots are unfortunately hard to recognize, but because March is Blood Clot Awareness Month, our team of board-certified cardiothoracic and vascular specialists are spreading the word about what to look for and how to know if you might be suffering froma blood clot.

What should I know about blood clots?

 If a clot forms in one of the deep veins in your arms or pelvis, it is commonly known as a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). You might experience the following:

  • Pain, tenderness, swelling, or a warm feeling at the spot of its occurrence

These clots are usually the result of sitting too long (like when traveling) or having a sedentary lifestyle. Other risk factors include:

  • A previous history or family history of blood clots
  • A recent surgery or traumatic injury
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Immobility or a sedentary lifestyle
  • Cancer and some cancer treatments
  • Certain medications such as birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy

If left untreated, a DVT can break off and travel to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Blood clots in the lungs or other areas of the body my cause you to experiencing the following:

  • Lungs: chest pain, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, coughing up blood, sweating or fever
  • Heart: pain in the chest, difficulty breathing, nausea, or light-headedness
  • Brain: changes in vision, sudden headaches, dizziness, or weakness in the legs, arms, or face

Preventing DVT or Blood Clots

The occurrence of a blood clot can be unexpected and unrelated to these risk factors, so our cardiothoracic and vascular specialists recommend a few things that may offer some DVT prevention:

  • Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
  • Keeping your weight and heart health in check
  • Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity
  • Getting up and moving often when seated for long periods of time (such as when traveling)
  • Taking blood thinners, or anticoagulant medications, if directed by your physician

For patients that are considered high risk for blood clots and do not respond to or cannot be given conventional medications like blood thinners, your doctor may recommend an IVC (inferior vena cava) filter. Research has shown that IVC filters are a safe and effective way to prevent complications from blood clots.

What is an IVC filter?

An IVC filter is a small, basket-like structure that is surgically inserted into the inferior vena cava (IVC) vein through a small incision in your groin or neck.. If a blood clot develops in this part of the body, the filter (or basket) will catch it before it travels to the heart or lungs.

To insert an IVC filter, our skilled vascular surgeons make a small incision in either the neck or groin and expertly navigate the filter into place via a thin catheter running through the IVC vein. This is done on an outpatient basis, and the filters can be easily removed or replaced in the same way.

Some patients will need an IVC filter temporarily, while others may benefit from it being there permanently.

If ever you experience symptoms of a blood clot, especially feeling a spot that is warm to the touch, seek medical help right away.

For questions about any of our vascular, cardiac, or thoracic services, please visit or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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