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Blood Clots (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Usually the symptoms of a blood clot will be enough to alert and potentially alarm a patient or their family enough to seek care.

An arterial clot prevents blood rich with oxygen and nutrients from getting to cells, causing them to stop functioning. This usually causes a true emergency and emergency services should be activated (often by calling 911).

  • If those oxygen-deprived cells are in the brain, then symptoms of stroke may be apparent. Time is of the essence in seeking emergency care. There is a narrow time window during which clot-busting drugs may be used to reverse the stroke.
  • A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when the blood clot occludes a coronary artery. The signs and symptoms of heart attack include:
    • chest pain,
    • upper abdominal pain, arm, neck, or jaw pain,
    • indigestion,
    • shortness of breath,
    • sweating, and
    • nausea, among others.
  • Again, time is of the essence to try to re-establish blood supply to heart muscle by heart catheterization and balloon angioplasty or by administering clot-busting drugs.
  • Other arterial clots will usually cause an acute onset of significant pain and will signal the need for emergency medical care.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/27/2014

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