When you think of blood clots, you probably think of cuts and scrapes you got when you were a kid that bled, and eventually scabbed over before you picked them off. Blood clots are critical in that they impede the flow of blood, therefore prevent us from bleeding out. They can also do more harm than good, when they cause blockages where we do not need them, like inside the blood vessels and circulatory system. When that happens, they can lead to heart attacks, strokes, or other serious complications that can prove life-threatening.
Dangers of Clots
When blood clots interfere with blood flow, they can be problematic. Problematic blood clots can occur in multiple locations, each of which requires emergency medical treatment. Heart attacks may occur when clots block blood flow to the heart, while a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to clots in the legs. These may fragment and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can prove life-threatening. The same is true of strokes, which is when clots block blood flow to the brain. A lack of blood means a lack of oxygen, and therefore tissue death.
Considering how dangerous blood clots can be, it’s surprising we don’t hear about them more often. However, around 100,000 Americans die from conditions like DVT or pulmonary embolisms in any given year. If that doesn’t seem like a substantial amount, consider the fact that this number is higher than the victims of both breast cancer, as well as motor vehicle accidents—combined. With that kind of death toll, shouldn’t we be paying more attention to blood clots? Shouldn’t we be better informed about them, and taking steps to prevent and treat them when we can? We’d save lives that way.
In the interest of protecting health, it makes sense to consider the variables that may influence the odds of developing blood clots. As with many other ailments, the odds of having a problematic clot vary depending on other factors. While we cannot always alter these factors, it is still wise to be aware of them, so that we can better monitor our health and reduce the risk of tragedy. Here are some factors that may increase your risk of developing a blood clot. If any of these apply to you, consider making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.