What You Should Know About Blood Clot Prevention.
Blood clots are dangerous diseases that require special attention. The condition is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Statistics show that there are 900,000 blood clots yearly in the United States, of which 100,000 die annually. The American National Blood Clot Alliance states that the total number of deaths from blood clots is far much significant than the number of people who lose their lives to AIDS, breast cancer, and automobile accidents yearly.
The Cleveland Clinic defines blood clots as jelly-like collections of blood that form in veins or arteries when blood goes from liquid to partially solid. When blood forms in your reins, it can cause serious health problems. These blood clots can break off, go through your body and block blood flow to your organs. When a blood clot takes place where it shouldn't have, it is called a thrombus. A blood clot is further called a thrombus. When the clot stays in one place, it's called thrombosis, and when it moves through the body, it's called an embolism or thromboembolism.
Blood clots can occur in the abdomen, arms, legs, brain, heart, and lungs. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) can be divided into two parts: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) ( clot may occur in a deep vein, an arm or leg), and pulmonary embolism (PE), a lump already broken off and entered the lungs.
All body parts with a blood supply are vulnerable to blood clots. Symptoms will vary depending on where the clot blocks blood flow. Some signs include warmth, swelling, pain, or tenderness unrelated to an injury, particularly in one or both legs, a discolouration (redness or blueness) of the skin on your legs, and sudden trouble breathing or shortness of breath. Other symptoms include fast, erratic, or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, low blood pressure, significantly if pain worsens with coughing or deep breathing, and coughing up blood.
Anyone, irrespective of age, can get blood clots, especially deep-vein thrombosis (DVT); adults over 60 and hospital patients are more likely to develop this condition. The human body responds to an injury or cut by adequately clotting blood. This type of blood clot is not dangerous. A blood clot can form without it being caused (for example, by an injury or a cut). Certain risk factors or conditions make this more likely.
The following risk factors are obesity, pregnancy, immobility including prolonged inactivity, long journeys, smoking, oral contraceptives, certain types of cancer, trauma, certain surgeries, age (higher risk for those over 60 years), a family history of blood clots, chronic inflammatory diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and earlier placement of a central line.
Some diseases and health conditions can increase an individual's risk of developing blood clots. Conditions include cancer, COVID-19, and heart conditions such as congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Others include chronic kidney disease, blood disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, Behcets disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, asthma, sepsis, obstructive sleep apnea, tuberculosis, diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Since there are other conditions with symptoms similar to blood clots, special tests are needed to diagnose a blood clot, which can look for lumps in the veins or lungs (imaging tests). Your doctor may recommend the following medical examinations: blood tests and ultrasound, which give a better view of your veins and blood flow. Others are CT scan of the chest, abdomen, or head, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and V/Q scan Test circulation of air and blood in the lungs.
Medications and Treatments
When a blood clot is diagnosed, your general health and where you have the blood clot will determine treatment options. Your doctor may recommend medications such as anticoagulants, which prevent blood clots, and thrombolytics. The latter can destroy blood clots that have already formed. Compression stockings also apply pressure to reduce leg swelling or prevent blood clots from forming. Other treatments include stents, which are known to keep blood vessels open, vena cava filters that prevent blood clots before they can get to the lungs, and surgery.
Scientists and medical experts have recommended natural ways and lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of getting blood clots. Changes include:
Regular exercise. Since physically inactive lifestyles have been linked to blood clots, it is advised that you walk for not less than 30 minutes per day to maintain your circulation.
Drink water. You can prevent blood clots by drinking plenty of water daily, not less than eight glasses daily.
Walk. Pregnant women should take regular walks. Blood clots can occur due to the hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, so it's crucial to keep your leg muscles contracting to help blood flow when you walk.
Weight. Maintain a healthy weight. Blood clots can form due to weight gain and the increased venous pressure that comes with carrying extra pounds. Weight loss and a healthy weight can lower your risk of clotting.
Take a break. Break long sedentary periods of travel, illness, or your job demands you to sit for long periods; you must stand up and move around often. To prevent a clot from forming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends standing, stretching (feet, ankles, and legs), and moving about every 2 to 3 hours if possible.
Avoid smoking. If you smoke, it's high time you quit. According to research, medical experts have discovered that smoking increases the risk of developing a dangerous blood clot.
Although no one is immune to blood clots, it's wise to look for signs of blood clots and contact your doctor as soon as you suspect something is wrong.
Photo: Heart Research Institute https://www.hri.org.au/