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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Lim Sock Ling on October 25, 2022

Knowing These Blood Clot Symptoms Could Save Your Life

Symptoms of a blood clot may include pain in one arm or leg, shortness of breath, and fast heartbeat. Learn other symptoms and how to prevent and resolve them here.

Pain and swelling in leg min scaled

Did you know that one person dies of a complication of a blood clot every six minutes? Approximately 100,000 to 300,000 deaths occur each year in the United States due to blood clots. This is more than the total number of people who die from AIDS, breast cancer, and motor vehicle crashes each year combined.

Identifying a blood clot in your body could save your life. However, studies show that fewer than one in four people know the symptoms of a blood clot. If an artery becomes blocked, it could lead to a stroke or heart attack. Therefore, paying attention to the signs in your body is the best way to prevent this from happening.

Read on to learn more about how to identify the signs of a blood clot and tips for keeping your arteries healthy to prevent one from happening.

What Is A Blood Clot?

If you think you or a loved one has a blood clot, seek immediate medical treatment.

A blood clot is a clump that occurs when blood turns from a liquid to a solid. A thrombus is a blood clot that forms inside one of your arteries or veins. It may also develop in your heart.

An embolus is a thrombus that breaks free and travels from one location of your body to another. A thrombus and embolus can either partly or entirely block your blood flow.

If the blockage occurs in an artery, it may also prevent oxygen from being distributed throughout the area. This is known as ischemia and can lead to tissue damage or death if not treated immediately.

A blockage that occurs in your veins often causes swelling and fluid retention.

Causes

Smoking increases your risk of blood clots. They are also more likely to occur after an injury and in people with kidney and liver disease, cancer, and obesity.

Other possible causes may include:

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, Qi Deficiency, Qi Stagnation, Coldness of the blood, and Blood Heatiness can lead to blood clots. In addition, any trauma can also cause blood clots. Blood stasis refers to poor blood circulation or Blood Stagnation. As a result, blood clots will form. 

Blood Clot Symptoms To Be Aware Of

Varicose veins may be a sign of blood clotting problems in the body.

According to TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling, “From a TCM perspective, if blood circulation is not smooth, one will experience pain. The characteristics of pain due to blood clots are a needling sensation at a fixed area that worsens when pressure is applied or at night. One’s complexion tends to be dull, dry, and black. The lips and nails may appear purplish black and lackluster. There may also be purplish-dark spots on the tongue.”  

Other possible symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in one arm or leg
  • Pain or tenderness in one leg, such as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Arm or leg that is warm to the touch
  • Skin discoloration, usually reddish or bluish
  • Varicose veins

Call 911 immediately if you experience the following:

  • Rapid onset of shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain that feels like a sharp, stabbing pain and gets worse with deep breaths
  • Unexplained cough with bloody mucus

Menstrual blood clot symptoms

“Menstrual blood clots are a sign of Blood Stasis. Often, it is coupled with Liver Qi Stagnation, which presents symptoms such as mood swings, hypochondriac pain, chest tightness, and menstrual cramps,” explained Physician Lim.

To promote menstrual regularity and boost fertility, TCM uses the principle invigorate Kidney qi and regulate Chong and Ren meridians. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbs can help to achieve this. In particular, moxibustion is often used to improve Cold syndrome, resulting in infertility, menstrual pain, and metrorrhagia. Research shows that moxibustion can improve ovarian function. 

“Specifically for blood clots and related menstruation and fertility issues, formulas such as Xiao Yao powder or Kai Yu Zhong Yu soup help to soothe the Liver and remove stagnation, regulate qi and menstruation. Shao Fu Zhu Yu soup removes stasis, regulates menstruation, and promotes fertility,” stated Physician Lim.

In TCM, Bak Foong pills are often used to support fertility, regulate menstruation, and alleviate period pain.

TCM Ways To Resolve Blood Clot

According to Physician Lim, “TCM remedies such as acupressure help to improve circulation within the body to resolve blood clots. With all procedures, there are risks. It is noteworthy that an estimated risk of serious adverse events such as embolism arising from acupuncture is 0.55 out of 10,000 patients based on reports from surveys”  

Acupressure

Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy you can do at home. To perform it effectively, place fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints and apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint.

The acupoints that help support blood circulation are: 

  • Dan Zhong (RN 17): Relieves pressure within the thoracic cavity, improves qi and blood circulation to the Heart and Lungs
  • He Gu (LI4): Dispels Qi Stagnation, restores and boosts qi and blood circulation to the Heart and Lungs
  • Nei Guan (PC6): This acupoint strengthens the Heart qi, dissipates Blood Stasis, and restores and boosts blood circulation to the Heart
  • Tai Chong (LR3): Soothes Liver to dissipate and dispels Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis, restores and boosts qi and blood circulation to the Heart

Moxibustion

Moxibustion involves burning mugwort leaves on certain parts of the body. It helps invigorate yang and qi, warm the meridians and remove Cold, Wind, and Dampness, reduce mass and inflammation, move blood and reduce pain. Therefore, this can be beneficial for treating blood clots,” stated Physician Lim.

Herbal remedies

“Herbs such as Angelica Sinensis, saffron flower, and hawthorn fruit move blood and remove Stasis. Buddha’s hand, rose buds, and chuanxiong rhizoma promotes qi circulation to prevent Blood Stasis. Shao Fu Zhu Yu soup warms the meridians and dissipates Coldness to improve circulation. Xue Fu Zhu Yu soup regulates qi to remove Stasis,” Physician Lim continued.

Other herbs that promote blood circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation, and support Heart health include Cordyceps, Tian Qi, and Lingzhi.

Tips For Recovering From A Blood Clot

Eating a heart-healthy diet can help you recover from a stroke or a heart attack.

TCM can also help if you are recovering from a stroke or heart attack due to a blood clot.

Physician Lim stated, “Treatment-wise, we adopt the approach of nourishing blood and removing Wind, warming meridians and activating channels, strengthening qi and moving blood, invigorating Kidneys and nourishing essence. Acupuncture treatment helps to promote circulation and stimulate nervous sensation.”  

The more commonly used herbal formula that benefits post-stroke recovery are:

  • Da Qing Jiao soup
  • Da Huo Luo Dan
  • Xiao Huo Luo Dan
  • Bu Yang Huan Wu soup
  • Ba Zhen soup
  • Di Huang Yin Zi

The tips in this article can help keep your blood and heart healthy. However, if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a blood clot, seek emergency medical treatment right away.

Patients who have experienced blood clots and are on blood thinners must check with their physicians before beginning any herbal remedy. Some of the remedies listed above may interact with Western blood thinners and cause life-threatening bleeds.

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