Out of all the women, almost 240,000 had surgery during the monitoring period. Just over 5,400 women developed blood clots leading to hospitalization and 270 women died from clots and clot-related issues. When these women who underwent major surgeries were compared to women that did not have surgery, they were 70 times more likely to face hospitalization due to blood clots and clot related issues. Women who underwent same-day surgeries like arthroscopies or procedures like biopsies were almost 10 times more likely to develop blood clots.
To sum up the study, researchers indicate that approximately 11.5 percent of women undergoing surgery would later be admitted for blood clots. The risk increases with type of surgery as well, with major orthopedic surgeries like hip and knee replacements and major cancer surgery causing the highest incidence. In fact, one woman in 45 developed blood clots after joint replacement and one in 85 after cancer surgery.
What are Blood Clots?
Blood clotting is a life-saving process by which the body repairs injured blood vessels. When a blood vessel is damaged platelets rush to the affected area to form the first plug slowing blood loss. At this point platelets became activated and begin releasing chemicals that start the clotting process in the body that extremely leads to a protein called fibrin that forms a sort of mesh making the final clot. While this mechanism is beneficial, when clots break free from the injured area and travel around the body, serious health issues can occur.
Serious Clot Related Issues
The most serious clot related issues are deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. Each of these issues can be life-threatening and have different symptoms.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one or several of the deep veins within the body; it usually forms in the legs. Deep vein thrombosis often occurs without any symptoms at all until the clot is causing a problem. Symptoms of DVT include:
- Pain that starts in the calf or thigh that resembles a charley horse
- Skin changes like paleness and a blue tint
When these symptoms present, it's very important to see a doctor right away or visit the emergency room as soon as possible.
When a blood clot travels to one or both lungs, the condition is called pulmonary embolism. Many different symptoms occur with pulmonary embolism and vary dependent on the amount of lung affected, the clot's size, and overall health. Common symptoms of pulmonary symptoms are:
- Trouble breathing that comes on quickly and occurs with activity or rest
- Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing, or bending
- Cough that produces blood-tinged mucous or sputum
The less common symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Swelling in legs
- Excessive perspiration
- Irregular or weak pulse
- Feeling fault
Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that when treated with the proper medications is easily and quickly resolved with little ill effects.
When a blood clot becomes lodged in the tiny vessels leading to heart muscle, a heart attack occurs. It's important to understand that symptoms of heart attacks present differently in every person. Where one person may experience the typical crushing chest pain, another person may just feel severe indigestion symptoms. The common heart attack symptoms are:
- Pain, pressure, or aching in the chest that may spread to the jaw, back, or neck
- Indigestion including heartburn, nausea, or pain
- Trouble breathing
- Clammy skin
Any chest pain is cause for a trip to the emergency room, but often times the more nause symptoms present beforehand. When more than one of these symptoms occurs, contact a doctor right away.
Blood clots that travel into the brain cause strokes, a serious condition in which brain tissue denied of oxygen begins to die. Stroke qualities are much less common than they were a decade ago and treatment advances allows victims to overcome the ill effects sooner. Common symptoms of stroke include:
- Sudden dizziness and balance issues
- Trouble walking
- Sudden inability to speak clearly and understand conversation
- Paralysis on one side of the body
- Vision changes in only one eye
- Sudden, excruciating headache
Strokes, when treated early, are less likely to cause permanent brain damage and long-lasting complications. Stroke symptoms should be taken seriously.
When patients suffer from blood clots, doctors generally prescribe blood-thinners, or anti-coagulants. Your doctors will decide which blood-thinning drug you should be prescribed based on the health issue your facing, its severity, and health history.