blood clots

overview

Blood clotting helps stop bleeding after you’ve been cut or injured. Once the bleeding stops and healing begins, your body breaks down and dissolves the clots. 

But blood clots can also cause problems. Excessive blood clotting allows clots to form too easily and prevents them from dissolving properly. If your body doesn’t dissolve them properly, the clots can block or restrict blood flow inside your veins and arteries, seriously damaging nearby tissues and organs. 

Sometimes blood clotting is genetic or caused by acquired conditions, such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Other times, it’s caused by risk factors such as obesity and smoking.  

Depending on where they’re located, the clots may damage your brain, heart, lungs or limbs – sometimes with life-threatening consequences. So it’s important to have blood clotting issues treated.

symptoms

Symptoms of blood clots may include:

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Leg pain, swelling, redness and warmth are possible symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.
  • Problem with speaking or understanding speech, headache, paralysis or dizziness are signs of a stroke.
  • Shortness of breath, pain in the chest, arm, shoulder or jaw are possible symptoms of a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism.

diagnosis

To diagnose blood clotting, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and your medical and family health histories. 

Your doctor may perform various lab tests that measure the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in your blood. Other tests may look at specific clotting proteins in the blood. If your doctor suspects a genetic cause, additional tests may be performed.

In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in blood disorders.

services & treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. If the clot has caused a stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism or other serious condition, emergency treatment is often required. In some cases, special medicines known “clot busters,” called thrombolytics, are used.

We can treat non-emergency conditions with anticoagulants, or blood thinners. Your doctor will want to carefully monitor your blood to make sure this medication doesn’t put you at risk for bleeding.

Your doctor may also advise you to make lifestyle changes such as not smoking, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.

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