Blood Clots: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Blood Clots: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

The idea of suffering from a blood clot is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. In the mildest cases, they can cause discomfort and pain and at their worst, they can be fatal.

Yet for such a common condition (the CDC estimates that up to 900,000 Americans suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis every year), they are not very well understood.

If you would like to learn more about the dangers, symptoms, and what you can do to prevent a thrombus, the medical term for blood clots, then read on.

What Causes Blood Clots?

Our bodies take swift action to protect us when we have been injured, and one of the most impressive ways is blood clots.

When they happen naturally, their purpose is to stem the flow of blood from leaving our body, literally plugging the hole in ruptured blood vessels. When the impact that causes the bleeding doesn’t puncture the skin, the blood clot forms a bruise. When the skin is broken, however, it eventually forms a scab around the affected area.

Platelets are the star of the show, forming the first wall of protection over the area. Proteins called fibrin later add solidity to the initial clotting.

Under normal circumstances, as we can see, blood clots are good news. The problem is however when blood clots form where they shouldn’t.

This can be for a variety of reasons. These range from an unsteady slowing of the blood flow, steaming from inactivity (for example, being bedridden or going on a long journey) to the inflammation of the blood vessel lining and blocked arteries.

Certain conditions and habits can make someone more susceptible to blood clots too, such as having cancer or diabetes, living a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking.

Some of the dangers posed by blood clots can prove fatal, and increase in their severity depending on where in the body they happen.

For example, a blood clot in the leg is often only dangerous if it is displaced and can travel through the circulatory system to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. However, one that is in one of the coronary arteries or the arteries to the brain can cause either a heart attack or a stroke.

What Are the Symptoms of a Blood Clot?

Much of the symptoms of a blood clot depend on where it develops in the body.

In the brain, the signs of a blood clot can be confusion, the inability to speak and see well or move a part of your body. A good rule of thumb, especially if you are with someone you think could be experiencing a stroke, is being familiar with the FAST test. This is a recognized way of noting if someone is showing signs of having a stroke.

Signs of a blood clot near the heart are, sudden severe chest pains, profuse sweating, shortness of breath, and sharp pain traveling down the left arm.

Blood clots in the abdomen can lead to nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

The most common form of blood clots are those that appear in the deep veins of the legs and arms. Sufferers of deep vein thrombosis will note a warmth in their limbs as well as swelling, redness, and the area becoming tender to the touch.

If you note any of these symptoms it is best to take swift action to seek medical attention asap.

How Blood Clots Are Treated

If you have a non-life-threatening blood clot, the most common way to treat them is through anti-coagulants, otherwise known as blood thinners. The many types vary from herapin, apixaban, and dabigatran all prescribed according to the patient’s specific set of circumstances.

Another non-invasive way of managing blood clots comes in the form of compression socks. These can stop swelling if it is a blood clot in the leg.

If closer to your heart or another major organ then doctors may decide to take more invasive action. Surgery can be done either to remove the blood clot or to administer the medication directly to the area by inserting a catheter directly into the blood clot to thin it, known as catheter-directed thrombolysis.

Stents can also keep blood vessels open and ven cava filters prevent clots from traveling through the body due to them being placed inside the heart’s largest vein.

Blood Clot Prevention

As with all medical conditions, prevention is better than cure in the case of blood clots. The good news is that much can be done to reduce the risk of suffering from them in the first place.

The greatest prevention is to live a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition and being active. Regular exercise and activity improve the body’s circulation, leading to less chance of blood clots developing. In addition, avoiding fatty, unhealthy foods will prevent high cholesterol and the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, both factors in having blocked arteries.

Smoking is also another no-no if you are trying to lower your chances of developing blood clots. One study showed that people who smoke currently were 23% more likely to develop blood clots. Scientists believe the link between blood clots and smoking is due to it causing your plasma to become more sticky, leading to the body having to work harder to push it around the body.

Lastly, if you know that you are going on a long trip, medical advice is to be conscious of the need to get up and move around at regular intervals regardless of whether you are sick or relatively healthy.

The Final Word on Blood Clots

While the unexpected nature of blood clots can seem concerning, as we have seen, there is much that can be done to prevent and treat this common condition.

If you have been diagnosed with blood clots and your physician has advised you on the medication that you need to take then be sure to check out our store which has some of the most competitive prices online.