If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to develop blood clotting – a dangerous condition where a vein can become blocked by “sticky” clumps of blood.
Spotted early, a blood clot can be treatable, yet blood clots can also travel to the lungs, heart or brain – which can cause heart attack, stroke or even death.
Since the symptoms of a blood clot may mimic other conditions, it’s important to know what to look for and when to seek help.
1. Know your risk factors
There are a cluster of risk factors that make blood clotting more common: having a family history, smoking, surgery, long periods of inactivity (such as sitting on a plane or in a car) or cancer. Women may be more prone to blood clotting if they are pregnant or taking birth control pills.
Diabetes increases the risk of plaque buildup in the ateries, and the American Heart Association suggests that about 80 percent of people with diabetes die from clot-related causes.
In some cases, however, clots happen without the presence of any risk factors.
2. Pay attention to your legs and feet
Many blood clots start in the legs. Symptoms such as swelling, aching, tingling, redness or numbness may indicate the presence of a blood clot. Since these symptoms can also be indicative of diabetic neuropathy, it’s important to pay close attention to your legs and feet, especially during long car or plane rides.
If you notice discoloration, swelling that can’t be attributed to an injury, or difficulty walking, seek medical care immediately.
3. Take preventative measures
Blood clots aren’t always preventable, but you can take steps to avoid them.
If you’re traveling for several hours, make sure to stand up and move your legs every hour. Patients at risk for blood clots may also wear special comperession socks, which help to prevent clotting.
You can also reduce your risk for clotting episodes by getting regular exercise, avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine, minimizing stress, and quitting smoking.
As a diabetic, it’s also important to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which affect your circulatory health.
If you suspect a clot, don’t wait to seek emergency care.