Blood Clots

What are the risk factors for blood clots?

The risk factors for arterial clots are those that are common to all diseases that cause narrowing of blood vessels, cholesterol plaque formation, and plaque rupture.

Venous clots are formed due to one of two main reasons: 1) immobility, and 2) genetic errors in the clotting mechanism.

  1. Immobility: Most commonly, when the body stops moving, the risk of blood clots increases, since muscle movement is required to pump blood towards the heart. Stagnant blood in a vein is prone to clot.
  • This may occur when a person is hospitalized or bedridden after illness or surgery.
  • It may also occur with long trips (such as in a car, train, or plane) where hours may pass without a person getting up to walk or stretch.
  • Orthopedic injuries and casting also put the person at risk.
  • Pregnancy is a risk factor for forming blood clots in the legs and pelvis, since the growing uterus may slow blood flow back to the heart to a sufficient extent that blood clots may form.
  1. Genetic errors in the clotting mechanism: There may be a genetic or inborn error in the clotting mechanism, making a person hypercoagulable (hyper=more + coagulation= clotting) and at greater risk for forming clots.
Reviewed on 7/10/2014
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