Early warning signs of blood clotting in women

A health warning for women. What started as a tingling in the hands later turned into a health emergency for one young Houston woman.

We will introduce you to one woman who survived a scary diagnosis, along with a warning for others.

Surprise blood clot diagnosis

You don’t think a woman in her 20′s would be at risk for a sudden and dangerous health condition. The first day of in-person school for 24-year-old teacher Julianne Kovacik didn’t go as planned. She started the day with her usual workout at Orangetheory Fitness. Then, an annoyance during her workout later got scary.

“I started rowing, my arm was on fire, I couldn’t grip the handles of the rower,” Julianne Kovacik. “After class, I noticed my arm was a different color, it was blueish in color and more swollen than it was before.”

During her conference period at school, Julianne stopped by the Memorial Hermann Emergency Clinic in Kingwood.

“She came in with pain and upper extremity swelling,” explains Dr. Naveed Saqib, Vascular Surgeon, Memorial Hermann at UTHealth.

“They found a blood clot in my shoulder after doing an ultrasound,” said Julianne. “They took me by ambulance to Memorial Hermann in the med center. Within an hour of being at the hospital, I had to go into surgery to have the vein cleared out.”

“Once it was dissolved, the next portion was to prevent this to happen again,” Dr. Saqib said.

Julianne had a second surgery to remove part of her rib that was pressing up against the clavicle. That’s part of what caused the blood clot in the first place.

“It could have been very bad, 90% of my blood wasn’t getting through - or my blood clot could have broken off,” Julianne said.

Women at risk for blood clots

While the condition that caused Julianne’s blood clot is rare, doctors say women are at more of a risk of developing blood clots. One early warning sign -- tingling in the hands -- which Julianne did have the weekend before her surgeries.

“About a week earlier I was doing the rower and my arm went numb for about a second but I was able to row again and go to class the next five days with no problem,” she said.

“Generally we see patients with pain or tingling in their arm which happens when they raise their arms over their heads,” Dr. Saqib said.

He said if there is a tingling you are concerned about, do not hesitate to visit a doctor.

Already back to working out

Now, weeks later, Julianne is cleared to work out again - with some restrictions.

“I’ve been doing my little 10 pounds and my jogging,” she said.

She said being in such good shape from the Orangetheory Workout (rowing, running, weight training) is what helped her recover so quickly.

“I’m forever grateful to Orangetheory, forever,” Julianne said. “I love the workout because of the way it is setup. I was improving on the treadmill. I’ve never been a fast runner, I was able to run a 5:29 mile - that’s never happened in my entire life and I did that in January.”

Julianne will have to be on blood thinners for another five months and is taking part in physical therapy for now.

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