Woman hospitalised for migraines turned out have ‘massive’ blood clot

British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blood clot symptoms often look like other medical conditions or problems, causing great complications at diagnosis. In fact, figures show that approximately one in three cases are falsely diagnosed due to non-specific symptoms at presentation. One woman found to have a “massive” blood clot in her lungs recalls how she’d initially put her lightheadedness down to her chronic headaches.

Describing her plight on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website, Anniece Minor explained: “I am a sufferer of chronic migraines and after work one day in November 2014, I went to stay at my sister’s house and lay down because of a severe migraine.

“Eventually I could no longer stand the pain, and my niece drove me to the emergency room.”

Per standard protocols, Anniece was asked to answer a set of questions on an intake questionnaire.

“One of the questions asked about check pain, and I reluctantly described the light chest pains I had been having for the past three days,” she explained.

“I didn’t want to mention them because I suspect they were from indigestion caused by my diet.”

Based on her answers, doctors conducted an electrocardiogram test (EKG) which revealed a large pulmonary embolism (PE).

“My EKG results showed I had a massive pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs,” explained Anniece.

PE occurs when a blood clot that has formed elsewhere in the body becomes lodged in the lungs.

Typically, the clot forms inside a vein in the lower limbs before pulling away and entering the bloodstream.

The lack of blood flow that follows a blockage in the lungs can inflict substantial damage to lung tissue.

Hopkins Medicine explains: “It can cause low blood oxygen levels that can damage other organs in the body too.

“A PE, particularly a large PE or many clots, can quickly cause serious life-threatening problems and even death.”

The administration of anticoagulant drugs is the first port of call in the treatment of PE.

This medication prevents the body from producing fibrin, the protein that helps form the blood clot’s mesh.

Doctors believe that the blood clot formed inside Anniece’s leg before travelling through her heart and into her lung.

Many blood clots form as a result of sluggish blood flow, so a natural way to prevent this is by keeping the body as active as possible.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary embolism?

Each person may experience blood clot symptoms differently, but Cedars Sinai lists the following common symptoms:

  • Sudden shortness of breath (most common)
  • Chest pain (usually worse with breathing)
  • A feeling of anxiety
  • A feeling of dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.

“The type and extent of symptoms of a PE will depend on the size of the embolism and whether you have heart or lung problems,” explains Cedars Sinai.

If a healthcare provider suspects you may have PE, they may check the legs for signs of deep vein thrombosis before proceeding to other tests.

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