There are various reasons why a blood clot can form, from a bodily injury to an unhealthy lifestyle. Platelets and proteins in the plasma work together to form a clot in the injured area, and typically dissolve after the injury has healed. On other occasions, a clot can form inside arteries or veins without an injury, and won’t dissolve on their own. Blood clots are very serious, as they can lead to stroke or pulmonary embolism. According to the Center for Disease Control, strokes kill more than 130,000 Americans each year, which is 1 out of every 20 deaths. A person in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds; therefore, every 4 minutes someone dies of a stroke. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic, in which the blood flow to the brain is blocked.
Types of Blood Clots: Arterial and Venous
Arterial blood clots can occur in both the arteries and veins. Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart, while veins return oxygen-depleted blood to the heart. Clots formed in the arteries can block oxygen and blood from reaching vital organs in the body. They are often formed in the feet and legs, and can also be found in the brain, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Symptoms can include cold arms or legs, fingers or hands that feel cool to the touch, loss of color to the affected area, muscle pain or spasms, and tinging or numbness in your leg or arm.
Venous blood clots form in the veins and are likely to develop slowly. They are also likely to form after surgery or trauma such as a broken leg. There are three types of clots that form in the veins: deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and superficial venous thrombosis. DVT happens in the lower leg, thigh or pelvis, but can also form in the other areas such as the arm, brain, intestines, kidney or liver. PE is essentially a DVT that has broken off from the point of origin and travels to the lungs, which can result in death. Superficial venous thrombosis forms in a vein that is close to the surface of the skin and can be very painful. Symptoms of venous clots can include reddened skin over the affected vein, painful swollen skin, and veins that are painful or hard to the touch.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Clots
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle are essential to overall good health, as well as preventing blood clots. Avoid processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and refined carbohydrates. Regular exercise and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle as much as possible is critically important to your health. Smoking is also one bad habit you should toss, as smoking cigarettes or using a vapor device can increase blood clots. Hormone medications, blood pressure, and cancer medications are also known to increase your risk of blood clots.