Blood clots can often develop at times and in places where their presence can be harmful. This development can lead to stroke, heart attack, swelling, and severe pain. To prevent them, it is essential to understand how blood clots form in veins.
How Blood Clots Form in Veins
- Small disc-shaped cells called platelets are triggered when a blood vessel is damaged. They then release chemicals to set the clotting process in motion and attract more cells.
- The platelets will bond to each other and the damaged area of the blood vessel to stop or prevent bleeding.
- Clotting factors in the blood join with the platelets to further plug the damaged area and create a net to trap more cells in the area, causing the clot to grow and strengthen.
- New proteins balance the signals from the extra clotting factors to prevent the clot from spreading.
- The rupture to your blood vessel or tissue then begins to heal and the clot dissolves back into the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, substances in the blood, such as plaque, can also trigger the clotting process. This creates an unwanted blood clot deep within the vein, otherwise known to be Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Causes of Blood Clots
While the blood clotting process is normal, other factors may cause an unwanted clot to form, creating a medical emergency. Risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Recent injury, surgery or hospitalization
- A personal or family history of blood clots in the past
- Being over the age of 70
- Use of birth control containing the estrogen hormone
- Pregnancy or recent pregnancy
- Sitting still for extended periods, such as frequent travel
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Sometimes, patients receive plenty of warning signs that indicate they are suffering from blood clots, with the most common symptoms being:
- Warmth in the affected area―usually the leg
- Swelling and pain that may make it difficult to walk
- Numbness in the area
If you have any of these symptoms, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible. Only licensed practitioners, like our team at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, can properly diagnose a blood clot.
Once the blood clot is diagnosed, treatment is fairly simple. Most patients will receive a prescription of blood thinners and anticoagulants to help the clot dissolve. The patient will also be given instructions on when they can become physically active again and detailed changes needed for their diet. Follow-ups will also be necessary.
If you have a personal or family history of blood clots or are subject to any of the other causes mentioned, we highly recommend routine vein screening. The screening helps diagnose and treat DVT before it grows into a more significant problem. Give us a call at 779-696-8346 to book an appointment or free vein screening today!
Image Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/ Shutterstock