NeNe Leakes Develops Blood Clots, How to Recognize the Symptoms

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 11/20/2013 | 01:30 PM EST

What can be learned from the reality star's scare

In a blog post on her official website, NeNe Leakes revealed that she was diagnosed with blood clots in the lungs. The reality star and actress says she experienced shortness of breath and decided to go to the hospital, where she learned of the shocking news.

“I’m told this happened to me because of the constant traveling around the country that I do for my job,” she wrote. “I’m thankful to be alive as the doctor advised me that most people don’t recognize the symptoms of blood clots and don’t go to the doctor and that’s when the big problems start happening.”

Leakes’ revelation is a wake up call, and is another reminder of the dangers of blood clots, and that anyone, even celebrities, can develop them. For your own benefit, and those you love, it’s important to educate yourself on the dangers of blood clots, how they are formed and what to do for prevention.

Blood clots can form in, or travel to, the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and limbs, and they can limit or block blood flow. Signs of blood clots in the heart or lungs include chest pain, shortness of breath, and upper body discomfort in the arms, back, neck or jaw.  A blood clot in the deep veins of the leg may include pain, redness, warmth, and swelling in the lower leg, and a blood clot in the brain may include headaches, speech changes, dizziness, and trouble speaking or understanding speech.

If you experience any signs of blood clotting, do not take it lightly. It is important that you seek medical attention immediately. Not acting swiftly can literally make the difference between life and death. While you can’t prevent genetic causes of excessive blood clotting, there are steps that you can take to avoid or control risk factors. For your benefit, here are a few:

  • Treat conditions that can lead to excessive blood clotting, such as diabetes or heart and vascular diseases.

  • Make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or losing weight, if needed.

  • Avoid medicines that contain the female hormone estrogen if you have risk factors for excessive blood clotting. Ask your doctor about other, safer options.

  • Stay active if you can. Move your legs, flex, and stretch during long trips. This helps keep blood flowing in your calves.

  • Talk with your doctor about ways to lower your homocysteine level if it's high. You may need more vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or folate.

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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