Blood clots can be a dangerous post-surgical complication. Many of us have several risk factors for these conditions, including age, the mere presence of cancer, having abdominal surgery, and our immobility during long hospitalizations.
Deep Vein Thromboses (DVTs) are blood clots that originate in the legs. If a blood clot breaks free and travels to the lungs it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE), and can be fatal. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of each of these conditions and to report them to medical personnel immediately.
Common symptoms of a DVT are swelling of one or both legs; pain or tenderness in the leg(s), sometimes only while walking or standing; redness, visible veins, or warmth in the skin of the affected leg; and leg fatigue. Do NOT rub the leg in order to ease leg pain! Report it and let the medical professionals deal with it.
Some symptoms of PE are sudden coughing, which may bring up blood; sharp chest pain; shortness of breath; rapid breathing; rapid heartbeat; nausea and severe lightheadedness.
If, after a few days, you continue to have trouble breathing while doing everyday tasks, be sure to report this symptom to your surgeon or to the charge nurse.
Should these symptoms arise after your discharge from the hospital, go directly to the ER where the proper tests can determine if a blood clot is present.
Don’t be afraid to be assertive! Blood clots can be life threatening.