July 26, 2016

Blood Clots

Blood clot facts

  • A blood clot forms to try and repair damage to a blood vessel, either an artery or vein.
  • A blood clot is a gel-like mass formed by platelets and fibrin in the blood to stop bleeding.
  • When blood clots form inappropriately inside an artery or vein, they may cause significant problems because blood flow past the clot is decreased.
  • There are a variety of risk factors and illness that can lead to blood clot formation.
  • Causes of blood clots may include:
    • Heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disturbance
    • Pregnancy
    • Prolonged immobility
    • Smoking
    • Certain medications, including birth control pills
    • Surgery, especially orthopedic procedures when casts or splints are placed and the patient is immobile
    • Inherited blood clotting disorders.
  • Symptoms of blood clots depend on their location in the body. Some blood clots produce no symptoms until they rupture or become dislocated and travel through the circulatory system to other sites. Symptoms of blood clots in specific body locations are as follows:
    • Symptoms of blood clots in legs (deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are pain, redness, and swelling
    • Symptoms of an arterial blood clot in the leg are painful and the leg is cool and pale.
    • Symptoms of blood clots in the lung (pulmonary embolus) are chest pain, shortness of breath, and rapid pulse and breathing
    • Symptoms of a stroke (blood clot in an artery of the brain) include loss of speech, vision, and weakness on one side of the body
    • Symptoms of a heart attack (blood clot in a coronary artery) are chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion, and sweating
    • Symptoms of mesenteric ischemia (blood clot to an artery that supplies the intestine) are abdominal pain, nausea, blood in stool
  • The diagnosis of a blood clot is suggested by the history and physical examination and is often confirmed with an imaging test. Depending upon the location of the blood clot and its cause, 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 and includes avoiding smoking and lifelong control of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Serious complications may arise from blood clots, some are life threatening, and individuals should seek urgent or emergent medical care if they believe they may have a blood clot. This is especially true if signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke occur. Continue Reading
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Reviewed on 4/27/2016
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