Blood Clots

Blood clots can be defined as a mass of thickened blood that results from the process of clotting. Clotting is a mechanism, which is used by the body to prevent bleeding. A blood clot becomes harmful when it blocks an artery or vein and thus stops the flow of blood in the process. If blood clots are diagnosed in a person’s body, anti-coagulant drugs can be administered to decrease the risk of clotting.

The mechanism defined

The first step in blood clotting is the bonding of the platelets (the irregularly-shaped, colorless cell-fragments moving in the blood) near the surface of the damaged blood vessel. This adhesion results in the formation of platelet plug that stops the external bleeding. After this, the small molecules named clotting factors bind the platelets with the help of thread-like strands, called Fibrin. In this way, the inside of the wound gets sealed resulting in the healing of the severed blood vessel and melting of the clot.

The harmful side of blood clots

When the blood clots start obstructing an artery or vein and disrupt the normal blood flow, they become harmful. Such a blood clot is called a Thrombus and a thrombus in the leg or pelvic vein is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The symptoms of DVT are pain in the calf or leg muscle, swelling, tenderness, discoloration and prominent vein.

As a thrombus breaks free and moves around in the blood stream, it is termed as an embolus. An embolus can lodge itself in a smaller blood vessel (like an artery) or major blood vessels of the pelvis and the lung, causing blockage. The former is known as the pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolus includes symptoms like coughing up of blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain, dizziness, fainting, new onset of wheezing, etc.

An embolus can travel to an eye, heart, or brain, too. An embolus in the brain can result in a stroke whereas that in the heart can lead to a heart attack. When it affects the eyes, it can cause sudden blindness in one eye.

Factors leading to harmful blood clots

Patients suffering from cancer stand a higher risk of harmful blood clots. Other factors that can lead to blood clotting are decreased mobility, bed rest, obesity, age, history of deep vein thrombosis, fractures, smoking, arteriosclerosis and oral contraceptives.

The diagnosis and treatments of blood clots

To diagnose DVT, ultrasound is the most common test, which makes use of sound waves to detect the flow of blood in your vein. If ultrasound proves to be insufficient, doctors may refer venography. In venography, an x-ray named venogram is used to examine the veins. Apart from these two, a CT-scan can also be prescribed to you for the purpose. A CT-scan diagnoses both pulmonary embolism and DVT, with the aid of special x-ray equipment that gives 3-dimensional. Pictures.

As far as the treatment is concerned, anticoagulant drugs like Warfarin and Heparin are administered. Warfarin is administered in a pill whereas Heparin is given intravenously. For the first few days of anticoagulant treatment the doctor will advice you to take Heparin because Warfarin takes several days to start its action.

So if you notice blood clots in your body, which are not natural, consult your doctor immediately. After all, nothing is more precious than your health.

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