Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Blood clot facts
- What are blood clots?
- What causes blood clots?
- What does a blood clot look like?
- What are the risk factors for blood clots?
- What types and conditions are caused by blood clots?
- What are the symptoms of blood clots?
- How are blood clots diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for blood clots?
- What are the complications of blood clots?
- How can blood clots be prevented?
- Patient Comments: Blood Clots - Describe Your Experience
- Patient Comments: Blood Clots - Causes
- Patient Comments: Blood Clots - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Blood Clots - In Leg
Blood clot facts
- Blood clots form when blood fails to circulate adequately.
- Arterial thrombi form when a plaque ruptures and promotes an acute clot formation.
- Venous thrombosis occurs when prolonged immobilization allows blood to pool in an extremity and then clot.
- The diagnosis is suggested by the history and physical examination and often confirmed with a radiologic test.
- Treatment may require surgery, anti-coagulation medications, or a combination of the two.
- Prevention of blood clots involves attention to the risk factors for vascular disease.
- Serious complications can arise from blood clots, and individuals should seek medical care if they believe a blood clot exists.
What are blood clots?
Blood is a liquid that flows within blood vessels. It is constantly in motion as the heart pumps blood through arteries to the different organs and cells of the body. The blood is returned back to the heart by the veins. Veins are squeezed when muscles in the body contract and push the blood back to the heart.
Blood clotting is an important mechanism to help the body repair injured blood vessels. Blood consists of:
- red blood cells containing
carry oxygen to cells and remove
carbon dioxide (the waste product of metabolism),
- white blood cells that fight
- platelets that are part of the clotting process of the body, and
- blood plasma, which contains fluid, chemicals and proteins that are important for bodily functions.
Complex mechanisms exist in the bloodstream to form clots where they are needed. If the lining of the blood vessels becomes damaged, platelets are recruited to the injured area to form an initial plug. These activated platelets release chemicals that start the clotting cascade, using a series of clotting factors produced by the body. Ultimately, fibrin is formed, the protein that crosslinks with itself to form a mesh that makes up the final blood clot.
The medical term for a blood clot is a thrombus (plural= thrombi). When a thrombus is formed as part of a normal repair process of the body, there is little consequence. Unfortunately, there are times when a thrombus (blood clot) will form when it is not needed, and this can have potentially significant consequences.
Next: What causes blood clots?
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