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Blood Clots-Complications And Treatment

blood clot diagramBlood Clots affect close to a million people each year in the United States.

 

Your blood is supposed to flow continuously and smoothly through your body for an entire lifetime. One of its functions, however, is clotting off when you sustain a serious injury or a cut, to keep you from bleeding out.

However, if blood clots form when and where they aren’t needed, and do not allow blood to flow properly to the heart, there can be serious consequences. Essentially they can cause heart attacks, strokes and other serious medical problems.

 

  • Knowing where blood clots can occur, as well as what the symptoms are can help you recognize and seek medical attention sooner.

Depending on where they are, blood clots may need to be treated aggressively, or may not need anything other than relief of the symptoms.

Anything that damages the inner lining of a vein may cause Deep Vein Thrombosis (clotting). 

  • If your blood is thick or flows slowly, it’s more likely to form a clot, especially in a vein that’s already damaged
  • People who have certain genetic disorders or more estrogen in their system are also more likely to have blood clots
  • Blood clots caused by excess hormones during pregnancy can form in various places throughout the body, with different symptoms depending on where they are

People with the highest risk of developing clots: 

  • Have a history of prior heart attack (s) or heart failure
  • Have a family history of blood clots
  • Take certain medications like birth control pills,  hormones for postmenopausal symptoms. and some breast cancer medications
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Smoke
  • Are older
  • Are on extended bed rest
  • Have had surgery
  • Have cancer
  • Have periods of prolonged sitting, such as being on long flights 

The most common place for a blood clot to form is in the lower part of ablood clots in leg leg.

Recognizing the symptoms of a blood clot can help save your body from extreme damage.The symptoms depend on the size of the clot, but may include:

  • Swelling, which may be minimal and may be accompanied by more pain than anything else
  • Tenderness
  • A warm sensation
  • Pain in the calf when you stretch your toes upward
  • Pain in the leg overall
  • A pale or blush-colored discoloration 
  • If the clot is large, the entire leg may become swollen, and the person may experience severe pain  

 

heart blood clotBlood Clots In The Heart:

This is a less common location for a blood clot, but it’s important to be aware and able to recognize the symptoms.

  • Your chest may hurt or feel very heavy
  • You may experience shortness of breath and lightheadedness
  • Upper body discomfort in the arms, back, neck, or jaw

 

 Blood Clots In The Lungs:

A blood clot that travels to the lungs is called a Pulmonary Embolism blood clot in lungs(PE). You may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathing problems
  • Rapid heart rate  
  • Sudden shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to exercise or other strenuous activity

 

stomach blood clotBlood Clots In The Abdomen:

The symptoms that accompany a blood clot in the abdomen are similar to those of food poisoning or a stomach virus.

  • You may feel abdominal pain that comes along with vomiting or diarrhea 

 

Blood Clots In The Brain:

The last place where a blood clot can occur is in the brain.brain blood clot

  • A blood clot that occurs in the brain can cause severe headache
  • Sudden difficulty speaking
  • Sudden difficulty seeing 

 

Types of Blood Clots:

deep vein thrombosisDeep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that forms inside a vein, usually deep within your leg.

  • The danger is that part of the clot can break off and travel through your bloodstream. It could get stuck in your lungs and block blood flow, causing organ damage or death.

pulmonary embolismPulmonary Embolism:

  • This is a clot that moves into your lungs and blocks the blood supply
  • It can cause trouble breathing, low blood pressure, fainting, a faster heart rate, chest pain, and coughing up blood

If you have any of these, call 911 and get medical care right away.

Diagnosis:

An Ultrasound is the most common way to confirm you have a blood clot. The test uses sound waves to “see” the blood flow and reveal a clot.

Vena Cava Filter

  • If you can’t take blood thinners or they aren’t working, your doctor may recommend putting a filter into your biggest vein, called the Vena Cava
  • This filter catches breakaway clots and stops them from getting into your lungs and heart

It won’t stop new clots from forming or cure DVT, but it can help stop a dangerous pulmonary embolism.

Clot Busters

  • Medications that dissolve blood clots are called Thrombolytics
  • They can cause sudden, severe bleeding, so doctors use them only in emergencies — to dissolve a life-threatening blood clot in your lung, for example
  • They are  administered via IV in a hospital

Blood Thinners

  • Drugs called Anticoagulants are the most common way to treat DVT.
  • Although they’re known as “blood thinners,” they don’t really thin your blood
  • They help blood flow smoothly through your veins and arteries by making the blood less “sticky”  which prevents new blood clots from forming and present ones from getting bigger.

They can’t break up a clot you already have, but they will give your body time to dissolve one on its own. 

  • They’re used to treat some types of heart disease, heart defects, and other conditions that could raise your risk of getting dangerous clots
  • They can protect against heart attacks and strokes

But they also come with risks: For example, they’ll cause you to bleed more than usual when you cut yourself.

The lifesaving benefits of these drugs, however, often outweigh the potential dangers. 

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