A blood clot can be harmless or very serious depending on a lot of factors. If an internal blood clot is immobile and dissolves on its own you might not even know it existed, but if it starts moving towards vital organs like the heart, lungs, and brain, it can result in a very serious situation. If blood doesn’t clot over an injury or cut, then that too can lead to severe blood loss. Read about it here.
But how do internal blood clots form in the first place?
Internal blood clots can be the result of many factors such as:
Surgery: A recent surgery that required repairing the arteries and veins could be the cause of a blood clot. This risk is higher if it was heart surgery.
Immobility: Staying immobile for long periods of time, like after a prolonged illness that required complete bed rest or even a long plane ride can cause this. The risk is heightened if the person is above 65 years of age. The blood could pool in the legs causing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or worse still, travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism.
Atherosclerosis: High cholesterol can cause plaque (fatty deposits), to develop in the linings of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. This plaque could rupture in a coronary artery, causing a blood clot and possibly permanent damage to the heart muscle. In a worst-case scenario, it could cause a heart attack.
Atrial Fibrillation: This sort of heart arrhythmia causes the heart to skip a beat or beat too rapidly. When this happens it interrupts blood flow, which can cause blood to pool and form clots. These clots can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Diabetes: More than 100 million people in the country live with this illness and it makes the blood more prone to clotting. According to the American Heart Association, almost 80 percent of those suffering from diabetes run the risk of dying from a clot-related cause.
Smoking: Consistent smoking over a long period of time can damage the lining of the blood vessels, making it more prone to clots.
Obesity: Obesity can slow down blood flow and put a lot of pressure on the veins. This can come with a double disadvantage of being inactive and diabetes increasing the chances of blood clots.
Pregnancy: Women who have had a C-section run a higher risk of blood clots. Pregnancy in general increases the number of platelets and clotting factors in the blood thereby increasing the chances of developing a clot.
Treating blood clots will depend on the severity and the underlying illness that caused it. While consulting with a physician is imperative here are some OTC therapies and lifestyle changes to try to prevent and blood clots.
Compression stockings look similar to pantyhose and are useful in helping the veins in the leg return blood to the heart. They are quite useful after an episode of DVT.
Walk frequently and clocking in a considerable amount of steps every day can help regulate circulation. Set a walking limit for only after consulting with a physician as a history of heart disease, diabetes might put a load on the body.
Avoid sitting for long hours at a stretch, even if it’s at work. Get up every hour and move around.
Work with professionals to get to a healthy weight in case of obesity. Avoid yo-yo dieting and crash dieting.
Drink enough water. Not drinking enough water can cause the blood to thicken increasing the chances of a clot.