Scary Signs You May Have a Blood Clot

Blood clotting is your body’s way of keeping you from bleeding out. But if a clot doesn’t break up, it’ll keep traveling through your body. If it gets stuck in the lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE). If it stops in a leg or arm, it’s called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Blood clots can also make their way to the brain, kidneys, belly, and heart.

No matter where the clot ends up, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to know the symptoms, especially if you’re at high risk. Here are the scary signs you may have a blood clot.

1. Pain in the leg or arm

Arm pain
Woman with arm ache | Triocean/Getty Images

A symptom of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is pain in the affected limb. As the blood clot worsens, it can go from being a dull pain to more severe. Sometimes it is described as pressure caused by inflammation, and it’s often worse while walking. These types of blood clots can make their way to other areas of the body with devastating consequences.

Next: Don’t “panic” if you experience this symptom.

2. Panic attacks

Frustrated businessman
Panic attacks are terrifying. | Tom Merton/Getty Images

This symptom may seem like it’s on the wrong list, but many people who have had a pulmonary embolism, or PE, reported feeling panic. If a blood clot travels to the lungs, it can severely hinder blood flow and oxygen to the body. This can cause similar symptoms to anxiety or panic attacks.

Next: See a doctor immediately for this scary sign.

3. Coughing up blood

Man has a cough
Coughing is a concern. | Koldunov

This sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but it’s true. Coughing up blood is a sign there may be fluid buildup and lung inflammation. If a DVT makes its way to the lungs, you may see blood in your hand after coughing. Some mistake this as pneumonia, so it’s essential to think about all your symptoms together. Either way, you seek medical attain ASAP.

Next: This one will hurt …

4. Sharp chest pain

Man having chest pain
Experiencing chest pain | twinsterphoto/Getty Images

Sudden, sharp pain in the chest could indicate a PE. It often hurts a lot more when breathing — a scary sign that a blood clot has formed in or around the heart. If the pain is dull and in the arm, it may signal a heart attack. Pain from a PE is usually sharper, but it may also appear in the arms as well.

Next: Seek help fast if this happens.

5. Shortness of breath

Exhausted man
Shortness of breath | FlamingoImages/Getty Images

Blood clots in the heart or lungs can make you feel shortness of breath or like you have a heavy weight on the chest. Others describe it as if you were breathing through a straw. Women’s Health explains it will feel like you just finished exercising even though you haven’t. Regardless, it’s a life-threatening sign you’re not getting enough oxygen.

Next: Most often, this is the first sign.

6. Increased heart rate

Stethoscope
A rapid heart rate | ijeab/Getty Images

When arriving at the lungs, a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. To compensate, your heart will try to beat faster. An average heart rate is between 60-100 beats a minute. If a PE occurs, your resting heart rate can rise well above 100.

Next: This one can be seen and felt.

7. Leg or arm is warm or red

Man touching knee
A hot knee | Motortion/Getty Images

If you notice a change the color of your arm or leg, it might be a sign you have DVT. These form in the deep veins of the arms or legs. If you have a DVT, it can block or slow blood flow to that arm or leg, changing the color. It can also make it feel warmer or even tingle. Don’t ignore these symptoms. DVT’s often make their way to the heart or lungs.

Next: Sometimes, this symptom is overlooked.

8. Vision problems

Fatigued senior man
Man having vision trouble | fizkes/Getty Images

One of the lesser known symptoms, vision problems can occur when blood flow and oxygen diminish. Affecting one or both eyes, blurred vision can also occur if the blood clot is in the eye. This usually only happens after a traumatic injury to the area.

Next: Your clothes might not fit right.

9. Swelling in your leg or arm

Swelling in the arm
Swollen arm | Horillaz/Getty Images

A major indicator of DVT is swelling in an arm or leg. The change can usually be seen and felt. You may notice a size difference when looking in the mirror or when your jeans fit too tight on one leg. If you have a DVT, you will usually be able to measure the difference. Call your doctor immediately if you suspect a blood clot.

Next: You might mistake this sign for gas at first.

10. Severe belly pain

Middle age man with stomach pain
Stomach pain | AaronAmat/Getty Images

Blood clots can form in veins that drain blood from the intestines. This can cause swelling and blockages. If this happens, you’ll notice severe abdominal pain. We’re talking about pain that makes you keel over. It’s often accompanied by bloating and discomfort. If belly pain occurs out of nowhere and worsens with digestion, let your doctor know.

Next: Take a peek in the potty.

11. Bloody stools

Empty toilet paper roll
Toilet paper roll | cihancagli/Getty Images

Another scary sign is bloody stools. When a person develops a health problem, their bowel movements often change. If a blood clot forms or travels in the bowels or stomach, you might notice blood in your stools. According to WebMD, diverticulitis, birth control pills, and even liver disease can cause blood clots in the belly.

Next: Often called the silent killer

12. High blood pressure

Doctor taking blood pressure
High blood pressure is a concern. | Martin Barraud/Getty Images

People with high blood pressure already know they’re at high risk for heart attacks and strokes. But this symptom may occur because of a blood clot. It can happen to people who have never had high BP. When a blood clot forms in the kidneys, the body may struggle to remove waste, causing blood pressure to rise. Sudden onset of headaches, pounding in the chest, or fatigue can be signs of high blood pressure.

Next: Unless you ate bad takeout, don’t ignore this one.

13. Nausea and vomiting

Man in stomach pain
The stomach says a lot. | AaronAmat/Getty Images

Sometimes blood clots form in the vessels in and around the digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines, which can cause nausea or vomiting. This symptom can be a problem if ignored. Many people will write it off to catching a bug or something they ate.

Next: This sign might be an obvious sign of a problem.

14. Sudden seizure

Woman lying on the floor seizure
Seizures are serious. | Tunatura/Getty Images

Obviously, if you have a sudden seizure something isn’t right. But it’s important to know that blood clots in the brain can cause seizures. These clots can form because of trauma like a concussion, or they can come from other areas in the body and make their way up. If you are at high risk for blood clots or have recently hit your head, let your doctor know.

Next: Your kidneys are trying to tell you something.

15. Blood in urine

White toilet Black floor
Toilet | sitthichai sun/Getty Images

Sometimes a blood clot can form or make its way to the kidneys. When this happens, a person might notice blood in their urine. It is important to know that seeing blood in the toilet, does not automatically mean you have a blood clot. It is just one symptom that can occur.

Because the kidney’s handle the body’s waste, it often alerts you to a problem this way. If it is due to a clot, you may also notice the next scary sign on the list.