March is Blood Clot Awareness Month, or BCAM, and if you or someone you care about has been affected by blood clots, you might be wondering what you can do to make a difference. Often times raising awareness starts with simply sharing your story with the people that you already know. You can share your story verbally with friends and family, in a written note, or more publicly on your Facebook Page or Instagram account. Social media – and our online connections – make it easier than ever to share important information with people in our communities, and with people all over the world.
If you don’t know where to start with sharing information about blood clots, or if you’ve never shared your story before, I’ve outlined four specific things you can focus on to easily help make a difference during Blood Clot Awareness Month, or anytime you want to raise awareness: Blood clot risk, blood clot signs and symptoms, blood clot recovery, and blood clot prevention.
Blood clot recovery is not often a focus of blood clot awareness, but it’s still a very important thing to discuss. This month, I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about my personal recovery from a handwritten journal I kept for the first month of my recovery. I’ve never shared these thoughts before, but now I want to share them with you.
I’ll also be sharing some of your personal thoughts about how having a support system like Blood Clot Recovery Network has made a difference during your recovery. If you’re not already, connect with me on my public Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels to hear my thoughts. Plus, if you’re a member of my private Facebook Community, I’ll be sharing some special things there, that I won’t be sharing anywhere else. If you’re not a member yet, join for free today.
Are you ready? Let’s get focused on Blood Clot Awareness Month.
Focus on Blood Clot Risk Factors
Blood clots can happen to anyone, no matter who you are. They affect about 900,000 people a year, and about 100,000 people a year die due to blood clots, in the United States alone. In some cases, people may have been able to prevent blood clots by knowing puts them at risk for one.
I had no idea that I could be at risk for a blood clot, so I didn’t think one could ever happen to me. One of the most important things you can share with the people you know is information about blood clot risks.
Know the major blood clot risk factors.
- A family or personal history of blood clots
- Recent major surgery or hospitalization
- Total knee or hip replacement surgery
- An inherited or acquired clotting condition
- You have cancer, or are undergoing treatments for cancer
- You are immobile for a long time (confined to bed, long-duration plane or car trip)
- You are pregnant or have recently given birth
- You use estrogen-based birth control methods or estrogen for the treatment of menopause symptoms
Focus on Blood Clot Signs and Symptoms
Just like knowing your risk for blood clots, it is important to be able to recognize blood clot signs and symptoms. Looking back, what was most striking about my situation is that I had symptoms of a blood clot in my leg (pain) and in my lung (shortness of breath, chest pain) at the same time. I also had these symptoms for several days, and they got worse as time passed, not better. Eventually, I called my primary care physician who recognized my symptoms as blood clots and told me to go to the emergency room immediately. This month, take time to share the symptoms of blood clots with the people that you know.
Know the symptoms of a blood clot in the leg or arm, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
- Swelling, often in one limb
- Pain or tenderness, not caused by an injury (sometimes feels like a cramping, or “charley horse”)
- Skin that is warm to the touch
- Changes in your skin color, such as turning white, red, blue or purple
Know the symptoms of a blood clot in the lung, also known as pulmonary embolism or PE.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort, especially if it worsens when you take a deep breath, cough or lie down
- Feeling light headed or dizzy, or fainting
- Fast or irregular heart rate, or a rapid pulse
- Coughing, or coughing up blood
- Some people experience severe anxiety or feel like “something is really wrong”
When they occur together, DVT and PE are known as venous thromboembolism, or VTE. Blood clots in the lungs can cause death by obstructing blood flow, so if you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, do not delay emergency medical treatment.
Focus on Blood Clot Recovery
Recovery from blood clots is different for everyone. It can take weeks, months or years to recover fully, and some people live with long-term complications from blood clots, such as post-thrombotic syndrome, chronic shortness of breath, or even debilitating anxiety. If you have experienced a blood clot, it’s important to let people know what you are going through … and it’s also important for you to realize that they might not understand what you are going through.
Throughout my recovery, I had many people – some of them close to me – who did not understand how I felt, or understand why I was still in pain so many months after my PE. Sometimes, it was hard to talk about because it was so personal. How much – or how little – you share about your recovery is entirely up to you. During my recovery, I often found that sharing less was more. I found out pretty quickly that all I could do was share information about my situation, and if the people in my personal life didn’t understand, I moved on to talking with a community of my peers who knew exactly what I was going through.
Sometimes, sharing just a few general things about blood clot recovery can be helpful.
- It’s different for everyone, and can include physical and emotional healing
- Recovery can take a long time, but there’s no set time line
- It’s not like a healing from a cold or a broken bone, it’s more like healing from major trauma
- Some people require ongoing treatment for blood clots, which may involve taking medication and going to frequent doctor visits
- Sometimes, people who are recovering may look normal on the outside, but they’re still healing on the inside
- Blood clots are painful
Focus on Blood Clot Prevention
It is true that not all blood clots can be prevented. About 30 percent of all blood clots that occur do not have a cause, or a known risk factor. However, there are several important things that you can do to prevent blood clots from happening, or from happening again.
The most important things that you can do to prevent blood clots are simple, and sharing them is an important part of blood clot awareness. If I had known or done these things in my situation, it may not have been as bad as it was.
Everyone can take simple steps to help prevent life-threatening blood clots.
- Know your risk for blood clots. If you know your risk for blood clots or know when you might be in a situation that puts you at risk for blood clots like surgery or pregnancy, you can take additional steps to prevent blood clots. It is true that knowledge is power, or key, even when it comes to preventing blood clots. If you don’t know if you could be at risk, talk to your doctor about your concerns.
- Know the signs and symptoms of blood clots. If you know the signs and symptoms of blood clots, you can seek help, hopefully before you find yourself in a life-threatening situation.
- Know when to seek medical attention. If you think you might have a blood clots, seek help from your doctor or the hospital immediately. Don’t wait to see if it gets worse – or better. Get checked out sooner rather than later.
If you have already had a blood clot, there are some important things you can do to prevent future blood clots.
- Take your medication as prescribed. The most common cause of blood clot recurrence is not taking your medication. If you’re struggling with your treatment plan, or side effects, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
- If you are going to be having surgery or a medical procedure, talk to your doctor about your risks for blood clots, and your risk for bleeding. Doctors have to carefully balance your bleeding and clotting risks. Don’t assume everyone knows your health history if you haven’t told them, and plan ahead if you can.
- If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor too. It is possible for women with a history of blood clots, or clotting condition, to have successful pregnancies. Connect with your doctor ahead of time, if you can, to talk about ways to prevent blood clots, such as taking blood thinning medications for the duration of your pregnancy.
Sharing information is the most important thing any of us can do to raise blood clot awareness, and Blood Clot Awareness Month provides the perfect opportunity to do so. If you’re not sure where to start, tell your own story and as you do, make sure to include the focus points above. Together, we can make a difference.
There is hope for healing and you are not alone,
Do you want to do more? Discover your personal plan for raising blood clot awareness.
March is Blood Clot Awareness Month and the BCRN bracelets are back! Visit my Amazon Influencer Shop to get your gear. #sponsored