Blood Clot

A blood clot (also called a thrombus) is created by the body as a normal response to a damaged blood vessel. The main purpose of a blood clot is to seal the link in the broken blood vessel. This protects the person from bleeding and stops blood from leaking out. Blood clots can be hurtful however, especially when they block arteries and stop oxygen and blood from flowing to vital organs. Clots that block blood flow are responsible for most strokes and heart attacks.

Symptoms

Blood clots can cause a heart attack, and can cause all the symptoms associated with a heart attack, including pain in the chest, back, left arm, and jaw. It may also include tightness in the chest, nausea, shortness of breath, and fainting. Blood clots can also result in a stroke. This may result in a loss of feeling on one side of the body, including the face, leg, and arm. In the case of Deep Vein Thrombosis, a blood clot may cause serious pain, redness, swelling, and a warm sensation over the affected area. DVT usually occurs in the leg and can lead to serious complications. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has more information about symptoms of a blood clot, and how to prevent and treat it.

Causes

There are many different reasons behind a blood clot forming. An irregular heartbeat can lead to a blood clot, as the irregular pumping can cause blood to remain and clot in the heart chamber. Blood clots can also form in a narrowed artery, which can tear over time, allowing the clot to completely block the artery, causing serious health complications. Blood clots can also form in people who have had recent surgery, who take hormone supplements (including birth control), have a broke bone, are over 65, are confined to bed or have a serious lack of mobility, have bad veins, have a family history of blood clotting or have had a blood clot before, have heart trouble, and have taken a long trip (such as on an airplane or in a car).

Prevention

There are ways to prevent blood clots from forming. It is important to stay healthy and exercise frequently. You may want to wear loose-fitting clothing, and change your position constantly, especially if you are taking a long trip in a car or on an airplane. Try to avoid standing or sitting for more than 1 hour at a time. Eat less salt, do not use pillows under your knees, and raise the bottom of your bed to help influence blood flow. Prevention of blood clots is the best way to deal with the problems of stroke and heart disease. Lifestyle changes can help with this. Controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and avoiding high consumption of caffeine and alcohol are all ways to improve your lifestyle and prevent clotting, as well as other serious health risks.

Treatment

Treatment for blood clotting usually comes in the form of medication. This medication can prevent the clot from worsening, or moving to affect other organs or the lungs.

 There are several popular blood-thinning medications. They thin the blood which helps reduce the risk of clotting. Some can also be used as a long-term treatment to help stop new blood clots from forming. To relieve discomfort and mild inflammation, the affected area should be kept warm and elevated. Moist packs should be applied to the area for 15 minutes at a time, and should be done so multiple times throughout the day. If the symptoms and inflammation last for over a couple of days, it is important to see a physician as soon as possible. Blood clotting can also be caused by an infection, and this can usually be cured by antibiotics. In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the inflamed portion of the vein.