A while back, we referred to untreated blood clots as as “silent killers” because they can develop without noticeable symptoms, and when they do cause symptoms, these may be subtle or mistaken for other less serious conditions. Here are some reasons why:
- Asymptomatic Formation: Blood clots can often form inside the body without causing any signs or symptoms that can be seen. These clots might not be found until they cause something worse, like a pulmonary embolism (clot in the lungs) or a stroke (clot in the brain).
- Mimicking Other Conditions: When blood clots do cause symptoms, they can be vague and look like other, less important health problems. For instance, it may be difficult to determine immediately whether a blood clot is the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath, or swollen legs.
- Sudden and Deadly: Blood clots can become dangerous very quickly. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the knee, for example, can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE) when a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs. PE can cause rapid trouble breathing or a heart attack without much notice.
- Lack of Awareness: People may not know all of the things that can cause blood clots or the signs of diseases that are linked to them. This lack of knowledge can slow down detection and treatment, giving the clot more time to do more damage.
- Chronic Conditions: People with long-term conditions like atrial fibrillation (an uneven heartbeat) or blood disorders that run in the family may be more likely to get clots. The signs of these conditions can be minor or come and go, which might not be noticeable unless you visit a cardiologist.
It’s important to know that not all blood clots are silent killers and that plenty of illnesses caused by blood clots can be prevented or treated if they are caught early. Blood clots are more likely to happen if you don’t know about the risk factors, don’t know about the possible signs, and don’t get medical help right away when you do have symptoms. Also, people who are at a higher risk of clots are often given preventive steps, like blood-thinning drugs, to lower the chance that they will form.
Labfinder.com offers a D-Dimer Test to help determine if a blood clot may be present. The D-Dimer Test measures the amount of D-dimer substance that is released when a blood clot breaks up. Doctors may use the D-dimer test when a person might have a dangerous blood-clotting problem or to figure out whether you might have a blood clot.