Although mesothelioma patients already deal with a plethora of symptoms, one symptom that isn’t discussed as frequently is the risk of developing blood clots. Pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, in particular, are at risk of blood clots, but fortunately there are ways to treat them before they get out of control.
There are a few different types of blood clots, also known as thromboembolisms, that mesothelioma patients can develop, and at least 38% of patients who undergo surgery will develop them. Deep vein thrombus (DVT) generally develops in the legs, pelvis, or thighs. However, it’s not as severe as a pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot that moves from the lungs to other parts of the body, which can often be fatal.
Symptoms of Blood Clots
There are numerous blood clot symptoms that mesothelioma patients should watch out for and be aware of, including:
- Swelling, warmth, and pain in the affected area
- Feeling faint
- Unusual anxiety and apprehension
- Fast heart rate
- Coughing, sometimes accompanied with mucous
However, in some instances, mesothelioma patients with PE may not experience any side effects at all.
- Swelling, typically in the affected leg
- Skin discoloration in the affected area
- Leg pain
- Leg tenderness
As with PE, some mesothelioma patients will not have any DVT symptoms or side effects.
How Are Blood Clots Treated?
For mesothelioma patients with PE, treatment generally consists of a medication called Heparin, which is typically injected intravenously into the patient’s skin. This is usually performed several times, over a series of anywhere from 5 to 10 days, depending on the patient’s individual needs. Afterwards, the patients may be prescribed the oral form of Heparin, also known as an anticoagulant, commonly referred to as blood thinner. This type of medication is one of the popular forms of treatment for blood clots.
Mesothelioma patients with DVT may start out on an anticoagulant medication only, as these types of blood clots aren’t as severe. However, since each patient is different, treatment may also be different, but a physician will determine the best course of action.
Compression stockings may also be recommended for DVT patients. Compression stockings, which stretch up from the foot to just below the knee, help reduce swelling and inflammation caused by blood clots.
If blood thinning medication isn’t working for PE mesothelioma patients, a vena cava filter may be recommended. A vena cava filter is a small filter that’s inserted into the vena cava vein. The procedure is performed by a surgeon. Once the filter is in place, it will catch the blood clots before they have the chance to travel to the lungs, which can cause PE.
Alternative Remedies for Blood Clots
In addition to traditional medication, there are numerous alternative measures that mesothelioma patients can do at home:
- Eat foods that help prevent blood clotting, such as bananas, spinach, apricots, raisins, garlic, onion, ginger, bilberries, brussel sprouts, and gingko.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol
- Drink plenty of water
- Use heating pads on the affected area
- Exercise as much as possible to reduce obesity (always consult with your physician before starting an exercise plan)
- Massage the affected area to stimulate blood flow
- Avoid sleeping pills
Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
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