Health & Fitness

What Are Blood Clots, Symptoms and Treatments

A blood clot is a gel-like substance or a lump of blood that is formed when platelets, proteins, and blood cells stick together. These are jelly-like clumps of blood that form in veins or arteries when blood changes from a liquid to a partially solid state. If you have ever noticed, when you hurt yourself and it bleeds, automatically the body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. However, once it stops bleeding and the wound is healed the blood clot also heals and disappears. But it is not the same always.

Normally, a blood clot begins in response to injury to a blood vessel and can travel to blood vessels in the extremities. Two substances, platelets (a type of blood cell) and fibrin (a firm thread-like substance), combine to form what is called a platelet plug to seal the cut or hole. Sometimes blood clots are formed in unwanted parts of the body like the lungs, brain, heart, kidneys, etc. These blood colts are abnormal clots produced by the body that does not break down automatically. These blood clots can be dangerous and cause other health problems.

What Type Of Blood Clots Can Be Harmful?

Generally, the formation of blood clots is a natural process of the body, but when a clot is formed where it should not, it can be harmful. The blood clots that are stagnant in one place are known as thrombosis and the ones that move around the body are known as embolism or thromboembolism. Embolism clots are particularly dangerous.

What Are The Symptoms of Blood Clots?

The symptoms of blood clots can differ from person to person, depending on the position of the clot. A hematology specialist performs a few tests in order to detect the position and the seriousness of the condition. Some of the common symptoms of blood clots are:

  • In the abdomen: abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
  • In an arm or leg: sudden or gradual pain, swelling, tenderness, and warmth.
  • In the lungs: shortness of breath, pain with deep breathing, rapid breathing, and rapid heartbeat.
  • In the brain: slurred speech, vision problems, seizures, weakness on one side of the body, and sudden, severe headaches.
  • In the heart: chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, and pain in the left arm.

Any blood clot that forms in the arteries (arterial clots) or veins (vein clots) can be serious. You should immediately visit a hematology doctor if you see any such symptoms. A clot that forms in one of the largest veins in your body is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). One of the most pressing concerns about blood clots is when a DVT travels to the lungs and gets stuck. This condition, called pulmonary embolism (PE), can prevent blood from flowing and the results can be very serious or even fatal.

How Are Blood Clots Diagnosed?

Blood clots are generally detected by some tests prescribed by hematology specialists. Some of the ways a hematology doctor can diagnose a blood clot and its severeness may include

  • A physical examination
  • A medical history
  • Blood tests, including a D-dimer test

Imaging tests, such as

  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays of the veins (venography) or blood vessels (angiography) taken after receiving an injection of a special dye
  • CT Scans (computed tomography)

How are blood clots treated?

The goal of treatment for blood clots, especially DVT, is to prevent the blood clot from getting bigger or moving to any other location. A hematology specialist provides the best treatment options based on your condition that reduces the chances of developing more clots or movement of the current clot. While the treatments may differ, depending on the position of the clot, however, some of the common treatments that a hematology doctor would recommend are

  • Medications: Blood thinner medicines help in preventing the formation of any further clots.
  • Compression Stockings: These fitted stockings provide pressure to help reduce swelling in the legs or prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Surgery: In a catheter-directed thrombolysis procedure, a hematology specialist guides a catheter (a long tube) into the blood clot. The catheter delivers the medicine directly to the clot to help it dissolve.
  • Vena cava filters: In some cases, a person may be unable to take blood thinners, in such cases filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (the largest vein in the body) to stop blood clots before they can travel to the lungs.

Clotting is a normal function that keeps your body from bleeding too much when you hurt yourself. However, some clots can be life-threatening, especially if not diagnosed and treated at the right time. If you notice any of the above symptoms or have a doubt regarding blood clots, consult the best hematology doctor at Sierra Hematology and Oncology Center.

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