What are Blood Clots?
These jelly-like masses of blood form after a bodily injury, to prevent excessive bleeding. Platelets and proteins in the plasma work together to form a clot in the injured area. Typically the body dissolves the clot after the injury has healed.
On occasion, clots form inside arteries or veins without injury and don’t dissolve on their own. These can lead to stroke or pulmonary embolism. Clots are serious and require accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
According to the CDC:
- Stroke kills more than 130,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 out of every 20 deaths.
- Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
- Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
- About 185,000 strokes—nearly 1 of 4—are in people who have had a previous stroke.
- About 87% of all strokes are ischemic, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.
- Stroke costs the United States an estimated $33 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
- Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
Types of Blood Clots: Arterial and Venous
Arterial Blood Clots
Blood clots can occur in arteries or veins. Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart, while veins return oxygen-depleted blood to the heart.
Arterial clots form in the arteries and can block oxygen and blood from reaching vital organs. Arterial clots often form in the feet and legs; they can also occur in the brain leading to a stroke or in the heart leading to a heart attack.
Some symptoms of arterial clots 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 to the affected area
- Tingling or numbness in your leg or arm
- Weakness of the affected area
These risk factors for arterial clots factor risk can be modified through changes in lifestyle or by medical treatment:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
Venous Blood Clots
These clots form in the veins and have a tendency to develop slowly. Venous clots are more likely to develop after surgery or trauma such 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-This clot usually happens in the lower leg, thigh or pelvis, but they can also happen in other areas of the body such as the arm, brain, intestines, kidney or liver.
PE-This is a DVT that has broken off the point of origin and can travel to the lungs. This can be fatal.
Superficial Venous Thrombosis -This type of clot forms in a vein close to the skin’s surface, these can be painful and require treatment.
What are the symptoms of a venous clot?
Veins near the skin’s surface may exhibit these symptoms:
- Reddened skin over the affected vein
- Painful, swollen or inflamed skin over affected vein
- Vein that is painful or hard to the touch
Early Signs and Symptoms
Blood clots symptoms can vary dependent on where they are located in the body. According to the American Society of Hematology, you may experience these symptoms if a blood clot has developed in these specific locations:
Arm or Leg – Sudden or gradual pain, tenderness, swelling, and warmth
Abdomen – Intense abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
Brain – Weakness of the face, arms or legs, difficulty speaking, vision problems, sudden and severe headache, dizziness.
Heart – Chest heaviness or pain, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, light-headedness
Lung – Sharp chest pain, racing heart, fever, shortness of breath, sweating and coughing up blood
4 Blood Clot Prevention Tips
Healthy diet-Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle are key for your overall health. Avoid foods that are harmful to your health such as GMOs, processed foods, sugars and artificial sweeteners, trans fats and refined carbohydrates. (Check out the natural blood thinners below to see how they can fit into your daily diet!)
Active lifestyle-Regular exercise and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle are of critical importance for your health. If you have a desk job, consider getting up to stretch your legs throughout your day.
Smoking-Whether you smoke cigarettes or use a vapor device, tobacco products increase your risk of blood clots.
Medication changes–Hormone medications, blood pressure, and cancer medications can increase your risk of blood clots. Check with your doctor to see if there are any other options for you.
6 Natural Blood Thinners and Supplements
These natural blood thinners and supplements are beneficial to your overall health and may help with prevention of blood clots.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Foods high in omega 3 such as fish, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
- Vitamin E – Prevents oxidation. Foods high in E include green leafy vegetables, almonds, avocado, broccoli, butternut squash and kiwi.
- Natural antibiotics – Such as garlic, olive oil, and onions. This study shows that garlic may be useful in preventing of thrombosis.
- Gingko – Reduces fibrin content which is a protein that is important in forming blood clots.
- Bilberry, Ginger, and Turmeric – These food reduce the ability of platelets to become clumped, which can lead to blood clot formation.
- Vitamin C – Powerful antioxidant to maintain proper vascular health.
This guest post was written by Elisha of My Health Maven. She is deeply passionate about educating people and empowering them to lead healthier lives. We encourage you to check out her blog and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!