Bruises and Blood Clots: When to Worry

Bruises and blood clots are both ways in which the body heals itself. Both can result from damage to blood vessels due to an injury. However, bruises or blood clots can signal more serious conditions.

When a frail senior lives alone, there is reason to be concerned that these signals can be missed. However, if they are enrolled in a government-approved PACE program, like Beacon of LIFE in Oceanport, NJ, you can be certain that the team of healthcare professionals providing each client the coordinated care they need, will be aware of any changes in their patient’s condition.

For those who want to ensure that they understand what to look out for, Beacon of Life presents this guide to bruises and blood clots.


Bruises are typically associated with injury. For example, after a fall or a hard bump, the blood vessels in the skin burst and leak blood into the surrounding tissue. This blood becomes trapped, and appears as a discoloration beneath the skin. Bruises are often referred to as black-and-blue marks since the lack of oxygen reaching the trapped blood makes it appear blue.

Bruises follow a standard course: the reddish appearance of the bruise will turn into a dark black-and-blue mark during the first few days after an injury. During this initial stage, the bruise will often be painful if touched or pressed. This is a result of the injury that caused the bruise, not the bruise itself. As the bruise heals, it will typically change color, eventually becoming yellow, and finally fading away.

If a person experiences an unusual amount of bruising, a vitamin deficiency or bleeding disorder might be the cause. Some medical conditions, including a low blood platelet count or low clotting factor, can also lead to excessive bruising, as can the use of anticoagulants, commonly known as blood thinners.

If a person notices a bruise that is not following the standard healing pattern, or finds themselves unusually prone to bruises, they should see their doctor.

Blood clots

Blood clots, on the other hand, have a variety of causes. The least alarming clots are those associated with the natural healing process after a cut. Damage to the area surrounding the cut causes the blood to coagulate in order to stop any bleeding.

Blood clots of this type are normal and will disappear on their own. But if blood clots become larger than necessary, or are unrelated to any injury, it could be the sign of a much more serious condition.

Blood clots that form deep in the tissue, known as hematomas, do not follow any standard course. Their course is highly dependent on their size and the place in the body where they occur. Large blood clots, as well as those that occur in muscles or organs, will often require medical treatment.

In particular, when blood clots occur within blood vessels, the situation can become life-threatening. This type of clot can block the flow of oxygen to the tissue beyond the clot, and, depending on the location of the clot, can lead to the following situations, all of which are medical emergencies:

  • A blood clot in any of the arteries that lead to the brain, or a clot in the brain itself, will typically lead to a Symptoms of stroke include numbness, weakness on one side of the body, or slurred speech.
  • A blood clot in an artery of the heart will typically lead to a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • A blood clot in an artery of the lung will typically lead to a pulmonary embolism.
    Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain or shortness of breath..
  • A blood clot in an artery leading to the intestines will typically cause acute mesenteric ischemia. Symptoms of mesenteric ischemia include abdominal pain or blood in the stool.
  • A blood clot in any deep vein will typically lead to deep vein thrombosis. This most commonly occurs in the leg. Symptoms of a of deep vein thrombosis include unusual leg pain.

In both the case of unusual bruising or symptoms of a worrisome blood clot, the sooner treatment begins, the better the outcome tends to be.

Beacon of LIFE staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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