The Silent Killer: Understanding Blood Clot Symptoms

Categories: HEALTH

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How do blood clots form?

Because they can develop in numerous locations throughout the body and result in serious health issues if left untreated, blood clots can be a silent killer. Blood clots can develop in veins or arteries, impede blood flow, or become loose and spread to other areas of the body, which can result in life-threatening consequences including heart attack or stroke.

When blood's consistency changes from liquid to somewhat solid, blood clots, which are masses of blood, form inside your blood vessels. Blood clotting is a vital bodily function that starts as soon as there is an injury or cut to stop excessive bleeding. Blood clots can be dangerous, though, and can result in major difficulties, incapacity, or even death when they develop or spread to areas of the body where they are not needed, including the head or lungs.  

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or pulmonary embolism, is the term used to describe a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in the body. DVT breaks off and travels to the lungs. Blood clots can also form in other parts of the body, leading to ischemic strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease, kidney failure, and problems associated with pregnancy.

The signs of blood clots might differ depending on where they are, but some typical signs include:

Swelling: Swelling, soreness, and discomfort in the affected limb can be brought on by blood clots in the arms or legs.

Skin discoloration: A blood clot may cause the skin nearby to turn red, blue, or pale.

Warmth: To the touch, the affected area could feel heated.

Pain: Blood clots might hurt, particularly while standing or moving about.

Shortness of breath: Chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath are all symptoms of pulmonary blood clots.

Dizziness: Headaches, disorientation, and drowsiness can be brought on by blood clots in the brain.

Weakness: A stroke may be indicated by weakness or numbness on one side of the body brought on by blood clots.

Blood clots: What causes them?

Your body clots your blood appropriately in response to an injury or cut. These clots don't cause any issues. A blood clot can occasionally form without a catalyst (like an accident or cut). Certain risk factors or medical conditions increase the likelihood of this occurring. Risk elements consist of:

1. Prolonged sitting (frequently the case while travelling and having to spend a lot of time sitting in an automobile, train, or aeroplane)

2. Prolonged bed rest (common after surgery or while unwell);

3. Pregnancy

4. Smoking

5. Obesity

6. Breast cancer medications, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control tablets

7. Specific tumours (such as cancers of the pancreas, lungs, multiple myeloma, or blood)

8. Trauma (severe harm)

9. A few significant surgical procedures

10. Age, particularly if you are above 60.

11. A history of blood clots in the family

12. Immune system problems

13. Conditions brought on by persistent inflammation

14. A few diseases (such hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, or Lyme illness)

Types of Blood Clots:

Two different types of blood clots exist:

Arterial clots: These blood clots have their source in the arteries and cause immediate symptoms. They can result in excruciating pain and other potentially fatal complications like stroke, heart attack, severe stomach pain, and paralysis because they prevent oxygen from getting to vital organs.

Venous clots: Slowly developing in the veins, these clots eventually cause swelling, redness, numbness and pain.

When Blood Clots, How?

A sequence of chemical interactions are necessary for a typical blood clot to complete its life cycle.

1. Platelets form a plug: Tiny components in your blood known as platelets are "turned on" by triggers released when a blood artery is injured. They change shape to form a plug that plugs up the fractured region to block blood from flowing out and stick to each other and the nearby walls. When triggered, platelets also secrete substances that draw in other platelets and other cells as well as trigger the subsequent action.

2. The clot thickens: Blood proteins known as clotting factors communicate with one another to start a quick chain reaction. In the end, a component in your blood dissolves and forms lengthy fibrin strands. These become entangled in the plug's platelets, forming a net that traps additional platelets and cells. The clot gets a lot stronger and more resilient.

3. Reactions stop its growth: In order to prevent the clot from spreading further than is necessary, other proteins balance out additional clotting factor proteins.

4. Your body gradually breaks it down: As the injured tissue recovers, you no longer require the clot. The fibrin clot's cells and platelets are returned to your blood when the fibrin's stiff strands break down.

How are blood clots diagnosed?

The doctor will assess your symptoms whether you visit a regular doctor's office or an emergency department. The doctor will also inquire about your medical history, the medical history of your family, and the medications you are now on. A blood test for the lab may be requested by the doctor. A blood test can also identify some infections and autoimmune diseases. To take a blood sample for the test, a tiny needle must be inserted into a vein in your arm. The presence of antibodies that prevent clotting and irregular clotting can both be checked for using a variety of lab procedures.

Treatment of Blood Clot:

A blood clot is dangerous because it can have disastrous effects if it is not treated. This silent killer needs to be addressed right away for that reason. Blood thinners or anticoagulants are typically given in-hospital for 5 to 10 days after diagnosis, especially for those deemed to be in the most critical cases or who are experiencing the acute phase of the ailment.

To prevent clots from reoccurring or from enlarging, however, the medication may be necessary for some patients for weeks, months, or even years after they have been discharged from the hospital. Blood thinners like heparin, warfarin, rivaroxaban, etc. are frequently prescribed in hospitals. But other novel oral anticoagulants (NOAC) can also be prescribed thanks to advances in pharmaceutical science. In addition to anticoagulants, certain people could also need additional treatments.

1. Thrombolytic medications: Streptokinase and urokinase are used to dissolve blood clots, particularly in persons who suffer a pulmonary embolism, similarly to tissue plasminogen activators.

2. Surgery (thrombectomy or catheter-directed thrombolysis): It is advised to undergo surgery (thrombectomy or catheter-directed thrombolysis) when a significant blood clot cuts off blood flow to important tissues and organs, such as the arms and legs.

3. Implantable devices: In order to maintain blood channels open or to catch and stop big clots from reaching the heart and lungs, devices like stents and filters are frequently utilised. When patients' responses to standard medical therapies, such as blood thinners, are poor, they are used.

What can I do to avoid blood clots?

Blood clots can occur in people of any age, gender, or race. The following actions can be taken to still lower your risk of getting a blood clot, such as reducing your risk factors when possible, even though drugs are generally thought of as the best way to prevent or treat blood clots.

1. Being aware of any clotting disease history in your family.

2. Educating oneself on the symptoms of blood clots.

3. Taking prescription drugs on a daily basis to manage other health issues including diabetes and high blood pressure.

4. Updating cancer screening procedures.

5. Donning compression stockings, if advised to do so.

Blood Clots Risk Factors:

Many factors, some more frequent than others, can frequently increase your risk of unnatural clotting. However, you run a greater risk if you:

1. Are recovering from surgery or a protracted hospital stay.

2. Have undergone significant surgery on the hip, knee, pelvis, or abdomen within the last three months.

3. Have a history of blood clots in yourself or your family

4. Possess a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease, or HIV.

5. Experience coronavirus symptoms

6. Have cancer and are undergoing treatment for it

7. Have significant injuries as a result of physical trauma

8. Have varicose veins or vasculitis

9. Utilising birth control or hormone replacement therapy

10. Are older than 55.

11. Are overweight and obese

12. Do you smoke?

13. Frequently lose water.

14. Practise poor dietary habits

It's crucial to get medical help right away if you develop any of these symptoms. To identify a blood clot, your doctor could request tests like an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. You can also take precautions to lessen your risk of blood clots by eating healthily, exercising regularly, stopping smoking, and adhering to your doctor's medication prescription.

In general, being aware of blood clot symptoms and taking precautions can help you stay healthy and avert major issues.

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