Generally, when someone gets injured blood will rush to the source of injury and clot to stop the bleeding. These blood clots are supposed to happen and are common, however, some unintentional clots that happen in the veins can be potentially life-threatening, and can lead to other dangerous disorders. Despite the danger that can be associated with blood clots, they are treatable and preventable.
Build-up of blood platelets can thicken and form a semi-solid mass. Once this mass is formed, clots can travel from the legs or arms to the lungs or heart which can potentially lead to death.
Some treatment options that are available to patients include medication and surgery. Anticoagulant and blood clot dissolver medications are available to some patients with a doctor’s prescription. For patients that cannot take anticoagulants or whose blood clots are too severe, surgery may be necessary.
Living a more active lifestyle and cutting out unhealthy habits like smoking are some of the simple preventative measure that one can take to reduce their chances of experiencing blood clots.
Blood Clots Defined
Blood clots are gel-like clumps of blood that can be bad or good depending on the situation. They can be beneficial when plugging up an injured blood vessel which will stop the bleeding. However, some blood clots can form inside the veins without a reason and don’t dissolve naturally.
Blood clots form when platelets and plasma proteins thicken and form a semi-solid mass. Blood clots can be triggered by and injury or other medical condition.
There are a number of conditions can cause blood clots, including:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Heart Rhythm Problems
- Prolonged sitting or bed rest
Once these clots form, they can be dangerous. The movements of the clots can lead to serious conditions especially if they travel to the heart, lungs, or brain.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
One of the most serious conditions that causes blood clots is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) because it can lead to pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is a process that follows DVT in which there is a blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. This occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs from the legs or other parts of the body after DVT. Because the clots go to the lungs, DVT and pulmonary embolism can be life threatening. In most cases, there are multiple clots involved but not necessarily all at once. However, quickly responding to the issue and getting treatment greatly reduces the risk of death or other major injuries.
Pulmonary Embolism is defined as the sudden blockage of a lung artery. As mentioned before, pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot in the leg during DVT. Once the blood clot travels from the leg to the lungs many symptoms set in, including:
- Permanent damage to the lung
- Low oxygen in blood
- Damage to other organ in the body from lack of oxygen
Other blood clot related issues include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and pregnancy-related problems.
Pulmonary embolism is something that is difficult to diagnose, especially if a patient has an underlying heart or lung disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends you see a medical professional if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Bloody cough
- Fast heartbeat
- Difficult or painful breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Sudden changes in vision
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg
Before being diagnosed, your doctor will likely give you one or more of the following: blood test, chest x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
Your doctor may do a number of things to treat the blood clot in order to prevent it from getting bigger and to prevent new clots from forming. Doctors are likely to recommend medication or surgery depending on the case at hand.
Medications that are can help prevent blood clots are blood thinners and clot dissolvers. Blood thinners will prevent new clots from forming while the body breaks up current clots. While blood clots usually dissolve on their own, there is specific medication that can be given through the vein that will dissolve clots quickly. Getting regular blood tests is recommended to check how your blood is clotting, especially if you are taking anticoagulants.
If the condition is serious enough, a medical professional may recommend a surgery to remove a clot. The clot removal process involves using a thin flexible catheter that is threaded through the blood vessels. One preventative surgery that can save a life from DVT, involves using a catheter in the body’s main vein to help keep clots from being carried from the legs to the lungs. This procedure is normally done to patients who can’t take anticoagulant drugs.
There are a few preventative measures one can take to reduce the risk of blood clots. For example, remembering to get up and move is helpful for blood flow, this is especially true if you are sitting for long periods on airplanes or car trips. Staying hydrated is another important tip as dehydration can contribute to the development of blood clots.
Losing weight, lowering blood pressure, stopping smoking and exercising are all things additional recommendations for lowering chances of blood clots. Another options for individuals worried about blood clots would be compression clothing that prevents blood from pooling and clotting.
While blood clots are a common occurrence, if they go unchecked they can lead to disastrous results including death. However, taking some preventative measures like being more active and staying hydrated can all help reduce your chances of blood clots. Living alone may make it more difficult to remain active, however, there are a number of assisted living facilities that can aid senior citizens in their efforts to stay lively as they age. If you’re looking for assisted living facility for your loved one, please reach out to Landmark Senior Living’s admissions staff for questions and more information.