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You Could Be at Risk for a Blood Clot If …

Blood Clots: What Causes Them and How to Prevent Them

What Is a Blood Clot?

A blood clot is a bunch of blood cells that congeal together. Clotting is necessary to keep you from bleeding to death from a paper cut. Too many blood cells bonding together are dangerous because they can clog veins and arteries which will stop blood from flowing to and from your heart and other vital organs. A clot can also break loose and travel to your heart, lungs, or brain which could cause you to have a stroke or heart attack.

What Causes Blood Clots?

Blood clots become more common the older you get and are often due to a more sedentary lifestyle. Diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other health conditions can be components in the development of clots in different parts of your body. Being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, and having high cholesterol are major contributors to the development of blood clots. Other risk factors for blood clots include:

  • Smoking
  • Genetic clotting issues
  • Certain medications like birth control pills and hormone replacement
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Pregnancy

How to Prevent Blood Clots

You might not be able to prevent blood clots totally, especially if you are genetically prone to them. There are, however, many ways you can modify your lifestyle to help lower your risk of blood clots. As you lower your risk for blood clots in your arms and legs, you will also lower your risk for other health problems. Some ways you can take charge of your body today include:

  1. Eat a low-fat diet, low-sugar, low carbohydrate diet.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Stop smoking.
  4. Exercise on a regular basis.
  5. Get up and move around every hour or so if you find yourself sitting most of the day.
  6. Wear compression stockings (if your physician advises you to).

When to Seek Help for Possible Blood Clots

If you feel you could be at risk for blood clots or might have one now, the first thing to do is discuss this with your doctor. They will likely run tests to see if you do indeed have a clot and what your next move needs to be. Some symptoms of possible blood clots that need immediate attention, especially if you have more than one, include:

  • Bruising or other discoloration, particularly inner elbow or calf
  • Cramp and/or throbbing pain
  • Veins that are swollen and/or painful
  • Difficulty breathing, possibly with pain in your chest
  • Spitting out blood when you cough
  • Swelling and/or heat in area of potential blood clot

A blood clot in your arm could move to your brain or lungs and cause a stroke or move to your heart and cause a heart attack. A blood clot in your leg, usually your calf, could travel to your heart or lungs, also potentially causing a heart attack or stroke.

Therapy is available to help you keep active and minimize your risk of developing a blood clot. Rehabilitation after a diagnosis of a blood clot and possible related health issues can help you to lead a fulfilling life.

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