What are blood clots?
Blood clots are masses of coagulated blood composed of platelets and fibrin.
What are the symptoms of blood clots?
Symptoms of blood clots depend on the location of the blood clot. If the clot develops in the deep veins in the leg, it causes a condition known as deep venous thrombosis. Symptoms of this condition include a swollen leg which is painful, red and warm.
If the blood clot moves from the legs to the lungs it causes a condition known as pulmonary thromboembolism. Symptoms of this condition include difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood and sudden death.
What are the causes of blood clots?
Blood clots normally form to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is injured. However they can develop abnormally when a person goes through a period of prolonged immobility. This can occur after a surgical operation or during a long plane and train rides.
Certain medications like hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills can also lead to the development of anomalous blood clots in the body. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of developing these clots.
Medical conditions like polycythemia vera, inherited clotting disorders and certain cancers are also associated with developing abnormal blood clots. Smoking cigarettes also increases a person’s risk of forming blood clots.
How does blood clot treatment work?
Blood clots are usually treated by taking medications like warfarin and heparin. These anticoagulants or blood thinners prevent the clot from increasing in size and new clots from forming. The doctor can also insert a small filter in the large vein known as the inferior vena cava to stop clots from travelling form the legs to other parts of the body like the lungs.
Blood clots in certain parts of the body can also be treated surgically by thrombectomy. In this procedure the patient is given general anesthesia before the surgeon removes the clot.