Hearing the phrase “blood clot” can strike terror into anyone’s heart; it is the kind of news that you never hope to receive. The largest concern with a blood clot is the fact that it can dislodge from its resting spot and travel to your brain or heart, and can even cause you to have a stroke. And while those are very dangerous situations, there is a silver lining to a blood clot: it can be treated and is one of the most preventable of diseases.
From what you eat to how you live, blot clots are very easy to prevent from forming in the first place and it starts with simple changes in your lifestyle.
Now you may be asking yourself what exactly are blood clots and how do they form? It’s a very simple process, if you have been injured, thus producing a cut, scrape, or something similar, our body jumps into action to clot the blood, thereby stopping or reducing the amount of blood that is traveling to the wound. This means that our chances of bleeding out become a lot lower, and once the wound has healed, the body will dissolve the blood clots and resume its normal run.
However, sometimes our body will create blood clots when there is no wound, and these blood clots can form anywhere in our bodies. If blood clots form without a necessary cause to them, our body does not dissolve them in the same way they do with blood clots associated with a cut. This is the point in which you will have a problem, the blood clot can break away from the veins and travel throughout your body causing damage and serious health problems or complications.
Types of Blood Clots
Blood clots occur in both your veins and your arteries, and both can become serious problems if not treated immediately. Because blood clots can be found in these two locations, there are only two types of blood clots that people can have: Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT and Atherosclerosis. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
This is considered to be the most common blood clot that people will encounter. DVT blood clots occur in major veins in your body, particularly in the lower left leg or the thigh. While the most common, it can also be the most dangerous. If you have a DVT blood clot and it breaks off and travels through your body, it can become stuck in your lungs and block the flow of blood to your heart, causing you to have what is called Pulmonary Embolism.
While it is the most preventable of blood clots, hundreds of thousands of people die from complications of this blood clot every year. This is why it is so important to make sure that not only are you getting your annual check ups, but that you are also listening to your body.
If you experience a sudden shortness of breath, or begin coughing up blood, you need to seek medical attention right away as these are the main signs of a DVT related Pulmonary Embolism. Research completed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that people who have or have had a DVT blood clot may still experience symptoms or complications even after they have removed the blood clot.
Those people may notice swelling, pain, or scaling on the part of the body that was affected by the DVT blood clot.
This is what happens when you have blood clots form in your arteries; these blood clots are different from DVT blood clots. This is essentially when a hardening of your arteries along with plaque build up creates these blood clots. Forming on the side of your arteries, they can restrict blood flow from getting to other parts of your body.
As that blood is struggling to get through, your arteries will begin to narrow to help push the blood, thus causing the blood clots to break away from the wall or to rupture. These types of blood clots can cause you to have more problems with your heart, and can also cause you to have a heart attack or a stroke.
In fact, these type of clots are considered to be the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, as about 50% of those deaths are caused by a blood clot.
There are a few different symptoms to look out for when you might be dealing with a blood clot. And it is also important to remember that just because you have some of these symptoms does not mean you have a blood clot, but you should seek medical attention right away. Depending on where the blood clot is located will determine the type of symptoms that you might experience.
Let’s take a look at the five different areas and symptoms that you might experience.
You may experience a heaviness in your chest, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, or a mild to moderate discomfort in your upper body.
Sharp chest pains, racing heart and coughing up blood are the most common symptoms when a blood clot is blocking the flow of blood to your heart and lungs.
The blood clots will affect your neurological system and cause difficulty speaking, vision impairment or loss, severe headaches, and dizziness. As some of these symptoms can also be the signs of other diseases and neuro problems, make sure you see the doctor to determine exactly what is causing your symptoms.
Limbs (Arms or Legs)
Sudden pain, tenderness, warmth, or swelling can be an indication that a blood clot has formed in your arms or legs. Most often you will find a DVT blood clot in your left leg or thigh, and an Atherosclerosis blood clot on your right side.
Stabbing pain, vomiting, or nausea are the symptoms of a blood clot in your abdomen. And because these are a vague set of symptoms and can be confused with other illnesses, you should make sure you are completely listening to your body and getting checked by a medical doctor just to be on the safe side.
Causes of Blood Clots
Now that we have covered what a blood clot is, how it is formed and what symptoms to be on the lookout for, let’s discuss what causes these blood clots and what your risk factors are.
Venous Blood Clots
These are the clots that form in the major veins usually found in your legs. You are often going to find that these blood clots form after you have sustained serious injury or trauma to your legs. They can also be caused my immobility from being obese or if you broke your legs and are unable to walk while they are healing.
If you are going to be traveling for a long period of time in the car or on an airplane, you need to find a way to stretch your legs or get up and walk around to help prevent these blood clots from forming. This is why it is important to take bathroom or walking breaks when you are riding in the car on long trips.
There are times during long flights that you are not required to wear your seat belt and can move about the cabin, and you should move around even if you do nothing more than walk the aisle a few times. This will help you to prevent these blood clots from forming and to keep the blood flow to your legs.
You can also develop venous blood clots if someone in your immediate family has had these blood clots. Your family history plays a large role in the types of diseases and conditions that you might eventually suffer from.
Your age and lifestyle are also contributing factors in venous blood clots, with people over the age of 60 being at the highest risk. Women who are pregnant can also develop venous blood clots as they are pumping twice as much blood through their body to help nourish the baby they are growing.
If you are on prescription medication make sure you are talking with your doctor or pharmacist on a regular basis to ensure that you are doing everything you can to prevent medicated venous blood clots. Oral contraceptives can also cause women to develop blood clots, especially if they are over the age of 35 and smoke on a daily basis.
People who have cancer or benign tumors can develop blood clots more easily than people who do not. Tumors can break apart with and without medical assistance and if a tumor piece becomes stuck near the vein that pumps blood to the heart and lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism to occur.
Arterial Blood Clots
The causes and risk factors for this type of blood clot are mainly due to the lifestyle choices that you make. People who smoke and are obese are more at risk of these types of blood clots than others. People who have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure can also suffer from arterial blood clots. The more of these conditions that one person has, the more likely they are to develop arterial blood clots than someone who only has one or two of these conditions.
Age, diet, and lack of exercise also contribute to arterial blood clots in people of all ages. But the older we get the more at risk we are of getting blood clots simply due to our age. The reason for age related blood clots is believed to be from a breakdown of the arteries, a decrease in regular physical activity, and an increase in the system that activated blood coagulation.
Atrial Fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat that many people experience and may think nothing of it. But as we age, it becomes a more serious problem and can actually cause a restriction of blood flow through the arteries around the heart. This not only causes blood clots to form, but it can also cause blood clots to form around the two chambers of the heart and reduce the steady blood flow that the heart needs to keep our bodies working properly.
Blood Clots Treatments
There are two different types of treatments that can be done to help treat and prevent blood clots in our bodies. As we have already discussed, your lifestyle can play a large role in the development of blood clots in your body. Changing different aspects of your lifestyle can greatly reduce your chances of getting blood clots.
There are also more conventional treatments for blood clots, but these depend on where your blood clot is located and how your overall health is. There are four conventional methods and eight treatments that are considered to be more home remedies than actual treatments.
These eight treatments are your lifestyle changes that you need to make to help prevent any blood clots from forming. Let’s take a look at the conventional methods for treating blood clots first.
These are also called blood thinners and work to reduce blood clots in your veins in and around the heart. If you currently have a clot, these medications help to prevent it from getting bigger. They can also assist in the prevention of our blood clotting and causing these larger blood clots.
These medications can cause side effects such as dizziness, headaches, bruising, and stomach pains; any and all side effects should be reported to your medical doctor. You should be careful when using blood thinners with other medications especially aspirin and other pain related medications as they can interact negatively with the blood thinners.
You may also bleed more if you suffer a cut or scrape while on a blood thinner due to the anti-clotting formula in them.
This particular medication actually works to break up and dissolve existing blood clots in your body. It also helps to reduce the amount of damage done to your veins and arteries by the blood clots since they are attached to the walls of the veins and arteries.
People usually take these medications with anticoagulants to produce the best results when it comes to removing and preventing any future blood clots. A hemorrhagic stroke is the main side effect that can occur with thrombolytic medications, but it is a rare side effect.
This treatment is for people who suffer from acute deep vein thrombosis; it is a non-surgical procedure that is used to directly dissolve the blood clots. A small catheter inserts medications directly into the blood clot to help break it up at the source instead of waiting for oral medications to dissolve them over time.
With this procedure, you run the risk of bruising, swelling, pain, or bleeding at the sight of the injection. There have been rare occurrences where people experienced bleeding internally due to this treatment in the areas of the brain and intestines.
This treatment is the removal of the blood clot by surgery. Your surgeon will make a cut into the vein or artery that contains the blood clot and remove it surgically. The blood vessel wall will also be repaired to prevent any further tearing or issues. There are a few risks to this surgery such as excessive bleeding, pulmonary embolism, and damage to the blood vessel being working upon.
Blood Clot Precautions & Prevention
Now that we have talked about the treatments that must be done by a medical professional, let’s take a look at the lifestyle changes that you can make on your own to reduce your chances of blood clots.
Change Your Diet
If you are eating foods that are coated in processed sugars, junk foods, or other foods that are bad for you, it is time for a change. Reworking your diet to include foods rich in proteins and omega fatty acids, dark leafy greens, and fruits will help you to lose weight if you need to and then help keep you at a healthy weight once you have reached your goal.
By changing your diet and keeping steady at a healthy weight you can reduce your risk of getting blood clots. Alcohol can also contribute to blood clots forming as alcohol contains large amounts of sugars in them. The same applies to sodas and teas with large amounts of sugar in them; you should limit intake of sweet beverages to 1-2 times a week at the most.
Becoming stationary for long periods of time, or lacking in physical activity can also cause you to have blood clots. Remembering to get up and get active during the day can greatly reduce your risk of DVT blood clots that are found in the left leg and thigh area. If you are not used to physical activity, then start out slowly and work your way up from there. You can also increase the amount of time that you are moving throughout your day.
For example, if you sit a lot for your job, then try standing more at your desk or walking to ask a coworker a question instead of sending an email. These actions will help you to reduce your risk of getting those DVT blood clots.
If you are on prescription medications for other illnesses, talk with your doctor about getting on medications that can help keep your risk of blood clots lower.
If you are a smoker, it is time to consider quitting. Smoking can greatly increase your chances of developing blood clots. If you are also overweight or have a lack of physical activity combined with smoking, you are increasing your chances ten-fold of getting blood clots in both your arteries and your veins.
Adding a turmeric supplement to your diet can lower your chances of getting blood clots. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory medication that also helps to prevent the development of blood clots because it has natural anticoagulant properties.
Garlic is not only a popular ingredient in your favorite dishes, but it is also very good for you too. Research studies have indicated that using raw garlic in your diet can help to prevent the formation of plaque in your arteries which causes blood clots to form. Garlic can also be used to help prevent thrombosis.
This vitamin is a natural anticoagulant that can also be used to prevent strokes and heart disease which are also associated with blood clots. By adding Vitamin E rich foods to your diet three times a day, you can significantly lower your risk of developing a blood clot. It can also be used to reduce your risk of blocked or harden arteries that could cause pressure to be placed on your arteries forcing them to rupture and form blood clots.
Research studies have indicated that there is extreme promise when it comes to using Helichrysum oil to break up coagulated blood from the outside. And by using this oil topically on the outside of your body, you can also reduce the risks that are associated with surgeries to remove blood clots.
Helichrysum oil can also be used to improve your blood circulation which also assists with DVT blood clots, so this is a great treatment to use from both DVT and arterial blood clots.
Blood Clots Conclusion
Always remember that while blood clots are a common occurrence, they can be deadly if you do not take them seriously. Make sure you are seeing your medical doctor on a yearly basis and that you are discussing any symptoms that you might be having that could be related to blood clots.
If unsure that the symptoms are blood clot related, go ahead and get checked out anyway— because you never know. Always listen to what your body is telling you and only use the natural treatments after you have been given clearance by your medical doctor; you don’t want to make things worse by combining treatments that shouldn’t be combined.