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Blood Clots

Blood clots are also called thrombosis and represent an aggregate of platelets. Blood clots are the final outcome of the coagulation process. A clot is formed when there is an injury and is the normal body response to an irregular underlying damage.

Blood clots are necessary to stop bleeding after an injury, but sometimes they can cause harmful effects to the body. Most heart attacks, MI’s and strokes are the result of the sudden formation of a blood clot within a coronary artery in the heart or an artery located in the brain. 

Prevalence and Course

The prevalence of thrombus is quite high with clots often resulting in atherosclerosis influenced by a sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits. Other types of blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis occurring in the legs or lung vasculature are also common. Clot formations are more common in veins as opposed to arteries and can occur suddenly or be prolonged in nature.


Blood clot formations take place when there is trauma to the linings of either an artery or a vein. The trauma can be macroscopic e.g. laceration, or can take place on the microscopic level. Blood also clots when blood flow becomes stagnant.

Venous blood clots: Blood clots form in a vein when a person is unable to move and his muscles fail to contract. Blood becomes harder to pump back to the heart. The blood then becomes stagnant and starts to form small clots along the walls of the vein. These small clots can increase in size gradually and have the potential to obstruct the vessels either partially or completely, preventing blood from returning to the heart.

Blood clot formation in an artery results from atherosclerotic diseases or blood coagulation disorders.

If a blood clot dislodges from its site of origin and moves to other vessels, it is termed an embolus.


Symptoms depend on the area of the clot formation.

  • If clot formations occur within the vessels of the Heart, the following symptoms arise such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitation and sweating.
  • In cases of clots within the brain, symptoms include visual disturbances, seizures, weakness, and paralysis and speech impairment. Coma and death can also occur.
  • When a blood clot is present in the vasculature of the arms or legs, a person feels sudden pain, tenderness or even swelling in these areas.
  • Sometimes blood clots can be lead to disseminated intravascular coagulation. This is the formation of very tiny blood clots throughout the body within the blood vessels.
  • In cases of thrombosis in the lung vasculature, there can be sharp chest pain, coughing with blood, a rapid pulse, dyspnea, sweating and palpitations sometimes accompanied by fever
  • If thrombus is present in the vessels of the abdomen, a patient may complaint of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.


There are various techniques used to treat abnormal blood clot formations. These include anticoagulant therapy, catheter directed thrombolysis, clot busters and thrombectomy.

Risk Factors and Prevention

The following are risk factors that should be prevented in order to be free from pathological blood clot formation.

  • Obesity
  • Immobility
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • A sedentary life style
  • Oral contraceptives
  • The use of cholesterol rich foods
  • Avoidable traumas
  • Age - increased risk for people above age 60
  • Inherited disorders of clotting
  • Different types of cancers or surgeries
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

A person should try to avoid leading a sedentary lifestyle and take an interest in physical activities. Eating a healthy diet and foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits and avoid smoking are also important ways of helping prevent the development of blood clots.




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