• New Amsterdam star Tyler Labine is recovering after experiencing a “potentially fatal blood clot.”

  • Labine said he originally experienced a “tummy ache” that got worse.

  • He spent three days in the hospital.

It’s easy to write off a stomach ache as being due to something you ate or a random virus. But for New Amsterdam actor Tyler Labine, it turned out to be a sign of a blood clot.

The 45-year-old shared the news in an Instagram post that’s gone viral. In the video, Labine can be seen with an IV in his arm, taking an ambulance ride, being wheeled into a hospital, laying in a hospital bed, and posing in the hospital bathroom in a gown.

“Sometimes it’s a Tuesday and you’re walking around with a tummy ache so you try to sleep it off,” he wrote in the caption. “Then sometimes you wake up on a Weds with a stomach ache so bad you decide to go to the ER at your local hospital. And then sometimes your tummy ache turns out to be a potentially fatal blood clot in your intestines and liver and you have to spend the next three days in the hospital trying not to die. Just sometimes.”

A blood clot, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a mass of blood that forms when platelets, proteins, and cells in your blood stick together, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Not all blood clots are bad—your body forms clots to stop bleeding when you’re hurt. But blood clots that form where they shouldn’t, having too many blood clots, or having clots that don’t break down like they should can lead to serious health issues, including a pulmonary embolism and stroke.

Labine said he’s “doing alright,” noting that he has a “slow recovery” ahead of him. Labine added that he’s “counting my blessings and just possibly reassessing what’s really important to me in this life.”

The comments of Labine’s post were flooded with well-wishes as well as stories from people who said they experienced something similar. But how common is it for a blood clot to show up as a stomach ache, and what other symptoms should be on your radar? Here’s what you need to know.

Why might a blood clot feel like a stomach ache?

Blood clots can form all over your body. “You can get a blood clot anywhere,” says Tracey Childs, M.D., chief of surgery at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. And, with that, symptoms can vary. If you have a blood clot in your abdomen, you might develop symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says.

While Labine didn’t provide details about his diagnosis, there is a type of blood clot known as SMV thrombosis, which is a clot that forms in the superior mesenteric vein, a major vein in your abdomen. This clot can cut off the blood supply to your intestines, leading to intestinal damage and complications, the Cleveland Clinic notes. The condition is rare—it happens for anywhere between one in 5,000 to one in 15,000 inpatient hospital admissions, the Cleveland Clinic says.

Symptoms can include stomach pain, blood in your poop, nausea and vomiting (possibly with blood in your vomit), a bloated stomach, swelling in your legs and feet, and confusion.

“This isn’t crampy pain—this is kind of like a heart attack in the intestines,” Dr. Childs says. “If someone is having tremendous, unrelenting abdominal pain and the abdomen is soft—not rigid—that is a hallmark for superior mesenteric vein thrombosis.”

Still, “This is not a very common problem for people to have,” says Howard Greller, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “It typically happens in people who have risks for blood clots. A blood clot in the abdomen is rarer than a blood clot in the lung,” he says.

Common blood clot symptoms

Again, symptoms of a blood clot largely depend on where the clot is located. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says the following can be blood clot symptoms, broken down by the location of the clot:

  • In the arm or leg: Sudden or gradual pain, swelling, tenderness, and warmth

  • In the lungs: Shortness of breath, pain with deep breathing, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate

  • In the brain: Trouble speaking, vision issues, seizures, weakness on one side of the body, and a sudden, severe headache

  • In the heart: Chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, pain in the left arm

“Blood clots often arise in large and deep veins, particularly in the legs,” says Thomas F. Boyden, M.D., program director of preventive cardiology at Corewell Health. “They can cause swelling, warmth, redness, and pain usually in one side.” Depending on where a clot travels to, it can cause stroke, clotting in the arteries, or a pulmonary embolism, which blocks blood flow to the lungs, he says.

What to do if you suspect you have a blood clot

Blood clots can be serious and even life-threatening, making this something you don’t want to sit on. If you suspect that you have a blood clot, it’s important to seek medical care right away.

“Any pain that does not resolve on its own or continues to worsen for unexplained reasons, particularly in the chest or abdomen, is worthwhile to seek medical attention,” Dr. Boyden says. “If you develop sudden onset chest pain after a long trip, significant injury to a leg or arm, or after recovering from surgery, I would recommend seeking immediate medical attention in the ER.”

In fact, it’s really best to get evaluated fast if you have any symptoms of a blood clot, whether they’re related to your stomach, leg, or some other area of your body, says Anita Gorwara, M.D., a family medicine physician and medical director of urgent care at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. If your doctor can’t see you soon, she recommends going to your local urgent care center or ER. “You need to be seen quickly,” Dr. Gorwara says.

And, if you’re dealing with intense stomach pain, it’s still a good idea to go to the ER. “Severe abdominal pain is one of those things where there are so many different possibilities,” Dr. Greller says. “Of those, so many can be potentially dangerous. The ER is an appropriate place to go.”

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