The first thing to understand about blood clots is that, most of the time, they’re a good thing. In fact, they can be life-saving as they prevent you from bleeding out when you’ve been cut.
But what about those blood clots that are unrelated to wounds? The ones that form in your blood vessels? As opposed to potentially life-saving, these clots are at the opposite end of the spectrum — potentially life-threatening.
To help you better understand blood clots and how they can lead to serious heart disease, the team of heart health experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists is focusing on blood clots here — why they form and what we can do about them.
Blood clots where they aren’t supposed to be
As we discussed, blood clotting that occurs when you slice open your finger is a good thing as platelets and fibrin come together to stop the bleeding. The blood clots that we’re concerned about are those under the heading of thrombosis, which are clots that develop inside your circulatory system.
These clots can form anywhere in your vascular system — in the arteries that deliver oxygenated blood to your body and in the veins that return the blood to your heart and lungs for more oxygen.
Getting more specific, we divide blood clots into three different categories:
- Venous thromboembolism, which include clots in the blood vessels in your arms or legs, such as deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism, which describes a blood clot in your lungs that’s blocking an artery
- Coronary thrombosis, which is a blockage in an artery in your heart
Our primary concerns when it comes to thrombosis are not only that the blood clot blocks blood flow where it forms, but that it can break free and travel somewhere far more problematic. For example, a clot can block oxygenated blood from reaching your brain (a stroke) or block blood in your heart (heart attack).
To underscore this concern, there are about 900,000 people in the United States who are affected by thrombosis each year and, unfortunately, the condition leads to about 100,000 annual deaths.
Primary causes of blood clots
There are several different conditions that are associated with blood clots. For example, a direct route to blood clots are inherited conditions, like Factor V Leide, which lead to a hypercoagulable state.
More commonly, some risk factors may favor the formation of blood clots, such as:
- Being sedentary
- Being over the age of 60
- Having obesity
- Certain hormone therapies
- Having diabetes
- High cholesterol
Though some of these conditions are outside your control, others are areas in which you can make improvements, such as exercising more, losing weight, and quitting smoking.
Treating blood clots
It’s impossible to say here how we would go about treating your blood clot if we found one because there are a fair number of variables that dictate our treatment recommendations. What we want you to know, however, is that there are many different solutions that include everything from lifestyle changes to interventional changes like medications or surgery.
If you’d like more information about blood clots, we encourage you to contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.