Clotting of blood

An Overview

Ever get a paper cut or nick yourself while shaving? When that happens, blood clots save the day. It quickly stops the bleeding, and when it’s done its job, it usually breaks up. Sometimes, though, things can go wrong. Blood clots, medically known as thrombi are areas of blood that have been converted from liquid to solid form. Blood clotting is referred to as coagulation. Blood clots are normal responses by the body to stop bleeding. When blood clots form inappropriately inside an artery or vein, they may cause damage to tissues because blood flow past the clot is decreased. For example, blood clots in the coronary arteries can cause heart attack, and blood clots in the arteries of the brain can cause stroke. Blood clots are clumps that occur when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid. A blood clot that forms inside one of your veins or arteries is called a thrombus. A thrombus may also form in your heart. A thrombus that breaks loose and travels from one location in the body to another is called an embolus.

Symptoms for Blood clots

  • The clots that form may not cause symptoms unless they embolize.
  • If the clot embolizes to an artery in the brain, the symptoms will be that of stroke.
  • If the embolus involves an artery that supplies blood to the small or large bowel (known as mesenteric ischemia), symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloody bowel movements.
  • This can happen in the exact spot where the blood clot forms, or your entire leg or arm could puff up.
  • In a leg or arm, a blood clot in a vein (deep venous thrombosis) can act as a dam and block blood from returning to the heart. This may cause inflammation of the vein. Common symptoms include swelling, redness or discoloration, warmth and pain.
  • If this happens, it could mean that the clot has moved from your arm or leg to your lungs. You may also get a bad cough and might even cough up blood. You may get pain in your chest or feel dizzy. Call 911 to get medical help right away.
  • As the clot gets worse, you may hurt or get sore. The feeling can range from a dull ache to intense pain.
  • The major complication of a deep venous thrombosis occurs when the clot breaks off and travels to the lung, causing a pulmonary.  Symptoms and signs include chest pain, shortness of breath (rapid breathing and a fast pulse). This is a potentially life-threatening condition depending upon the extent of the lung tissue that loses blood supply and the effect it has on both heart and lung functions.
  • An arterial clot depends upon which organ is losing its blood supply.
  • If it is located in a coronary artery, there may be signs of heart attack.
  • Cerebral artery occlusion by clot will manifest in signs of stroke.
  • A patient with an arterial clot to an arm or leg will develop a painful, cool, white, pulseless extremity.
  • If the clot is in your calf or lower leg, you may feel like you have a cramp or charley horse.
  • You might notice that your arm or leg takes on a red or blue tinge, or gets warm or itchy.

Causes for Blood Clots

Situations in which a blood clot is more likely to form in veins include: Once these clots form, they can travel to other parts of your body, causing harm. Factors and conditions that can cause troublesome blood clots, as well as serious conditions that are associated with blood clots, include:

  • Antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
  • Being on long-term bed rest
  • Certain medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone therapy drugs
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Factor V Leiden
  • Sitting for long periods, such as in a plane or car
  • Stroke
  • Surgery
  • During and after pregnancy
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Taking birth control pills or estrogen hormones (especially in women who smoke)
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Pregnancy
  • Long-term use of an intravenous catheter
  • After surgery
  • Prolonged sitting or bed rest
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in an artery in the lung)
  • Smoking
  • Blood clots are also more likely to form after an injury. People with cancer, obesity, and liver or kidney disease are also prone to blood clots.
  • Smoking also increases the risk of forming blood clots.

Treatment

Treatment depends on where the blood clot is and how likely it is to harm you. Your doctor might recommend:

  1. Medication: 

Anticoagulants, also called blood thinners, help prevent blood clots from forming. For life-threatening blood clots, drugs called thrombolytics can dissolve clots that are already formed. Anticoagulant medications In most cases, a doctor will prescribe anticoagulant medications, which people often refer to as blood thinner.

  1. Compression stockings:

These tight-fitting stockings provide pressure to help reduce leg swelling or prevent blood clots from forming.

  1. Thrombolytic:

Thrombolytic are drugs that dissolve blood clots. A doctor may give a thrombolytic intravenously, or they may use a catheter in the vein, which will allow them to deliver the drug directly to the site of the clot.

  1. Surgery: 

In a catheter-directed thrombolytic procedure, specialists direct a catheter (a long tube) to the blood clot. The catheter delivers medication directly to the clot, helping it dissolve. In thrombectomy surgery, doctors use special instruments to carefully remove a blood clot. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a blood clot from a vein or artery. This procedure is called a thrombectomy.

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