Blood clots form when certain parts of your blood thicken, forming a semisolid mass. It may be triggered by an injury of can sometimes occur inside blood vessels that do not have any obvious injury. Once they form, they can travel to other parts of the body causing harm. When you get a cut, your body automatically creates a blood clot to stop the bleeding. Once the wound heals, the blood clot dissolves. Medical complications arise when blood clots are formed but do not dissolve. There are two broad types of conditions that are related to blood clots, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
Signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a major vein of the body, most commonly the legs but it can also occur on arms. Symptoms include:
- Swelling in the affected leg or arm, which can include swelling in the foot or ankle
- Pain and tenderness in your leg or arm may also feel like muscle soreness or joint pain
- Skin discolouration is usually redness but the skin may also be blue or purple in colour
- The affected area of the leg or arm is warm to the touch
- In many cases, there are no noticeable symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism (PE)
When a blood clot breaks off from its point of origin (DVT) and travels to the lungs, preventing blood flow, it is called a pulmonary embolism and is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include:
- Sudden and explained shortness of breath
- Sharp chest pain that may worsen with a deep breath
- Upper body discomfort
- Feeling unusually tired for no reason sometimes for days on end (especially for women)
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid pulse
- Bloody cough that produces blood or mucus
Signs and symptoms of stroke
A stroke is when there are blood clots in the brain. Symptoms include:
- Sudden severe headaches
- Facial weakness
- Pain in the arms and legs
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body
- Sudden loss, blurring, or dimming of vision
- Slurred speech or inability to speak
- Dizziness, drowsiness, falling, or lack of coordination
- Nausea or vomiting especially accompanied by the above symptoms
Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing a blood clot including:
- Heart disease – Different Types Of Heart Disease And Managing Them
- Immobility or prolonged sitting or bed rest
- Recent surgery may cause your body to form blood clots to combat the resultant bleeding. This is why people are encouraged to start walking and moving around after surgery.
- Obesity which is linked to immobility and unhealthy eating
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and hormone therapy drugs increase the risk of blood clotting
- Pregnancy: Women are five times more likely to develop a blood clot during pregnancy. After childbirth, women are also more immobile and on bed rest limiting blood flow throughout the body and increasing the risk of clots forming.
- Age: The risk of developing clots increases as people get older
- Cancer diagnosis and treatment: cancer puts the body into a more inflammatory state which can cause an increase in the body’s natural clotting processes. Certain chemotherapy drugs also increase the risk of blood clot formation.
- Familial history of blood clots
Treatment and prevention
Treatment depends on the location and severity of the blood clot. In general, options include a venous ultrasound or a CT angiography scan. In extreme cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary. Blood thinners are also used to thin the blood out. Blood thinners are intravenous and also available in oral form.
How to prevent blood clots
- Exercise often and stay active.
- Maintain a moderate weight.
- Travel safely, stretching regularly to get your blood moving.
- Stay hydrated in general but especially when travelling.
- Quit smoking because cigarettes negatively affects blood circulation
- Be aware of birth control pills side effects.
- Change your diet and eat healthy – fruits, grains, and vegetables.
- Older people can take aspirin to make sure they don’t get blood clots. Consult your doctor before doing this. 7 Surprising Uses Of Aspirin You Should Know About
Foods that help with blood clots management and prevention
- Fruits including grapes, cherries, apples, prunes, pears, and citrus fruits. Lifestyle: The Benefits Of Berries And Some Of The Important Berries To Eat
- Whole grains
- Black or green tea
- Red wine
Natural blood thinners
- Cayenne pepper
- Vitamin E rich foods including almonds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables
If you suspect something may be amiss, consult your doctor.\