What is a blood clot?
A blood clot is a buildup of coagulated blood or other accumulated substance that has traveled into the bloodstream.
Causes of blood clots
There are many factors that can contribute to the development of a blood clot. There are instances where blood clot formation is helpful, as a response to stop bleeding, due to an injury. However, blood clots can be worrisome when they form in the bloodstream, including the veins. This can lead to serious complications that require medical attention. Blood clots can be brought on by many factors and conditions, including:
- Arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Antiphospholipid syndrome (immune system mistakenly attacks proteins in the blood)
- Factor V Leiden (mutation of the clotting factors in the blood)
- Family history of blood clots
- Medications like oral contraceptives, hormone therapy drugs, and some breast cancer medications
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease (narrowed blood vessels)
- Polycythemia vera (form of blood cancer)
- Heart failure
- Prolonged sitting or bed rest
Symptoms of blood clots
Blood clots that develop within tiny veins close to the skin’s surface (superficial phlebitis) can lead to redness, pain and swelling of the area. But serious complications rarely result from superficial phlebitis.
Blood clots that develop within larger, deeper veins (deep vein thrombosis) can lead to widespread symptoms in the affected area, resulting in serious problems such as pulmonary embolism. If the blood clot breaks away, it can travel to the lungs and result in this potentially life-threatening condition. Seek immediate emergency care if you are experiencing:
- Shortness of breath
- Pressure or squeezing pains in the middle of the chest that last longer than a couple minutes
- Pain traveling from the shoulder, arm, back, or jaw
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, legs or arms
- Aphasia (sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech)
- Sudden onset of double, blurred or decreased vision
Lowering your risk for blood clots
There are a few things you can do to lower your risk for blood clots:
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
- Get up and move after surgery or bed rest
- Lose weight, lower blood pressure, quit smoking and exercise regularly
For more information on blood clots, or to schedule an appointment with a Dr. Gilvydis, call (877) 999-7912 today.