How Do Blood Clots Happen?

When you get hurt and start bleeding, your body forms a blood clot to prevent you from losing too much blood. The mass of blood changes from a liquid to a semi-solid state. However, a problem forms when the body forms blood clots too frequently or not enough without traumatic cause.

If a blood clot occurs within one of the body’s major veins and doesn’t dissolve when it’s supposed to, it’s called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  DVT’s can happen in the legs, arms, abdomen, lungs, or even brain. When the blood clot reaches one of these deep veins, breaks off, and travels to the lungs and blocks the flow of blood in an artery, the condition is called a pulmonary embolism—this could cause permanent damage to the lung and even death.

Causes and risk factors

Although blood clots are most common in individuals who have had recent surgery or elderly people who cannot move around very often, they can occur for a variety of reasons. Some risk factors for blood clots include:

  • Age (those over 65 are at more of a risk)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Some genetic disorders
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Some contraceptive pills

If your physician has detected a blood clot, they may give you a blood-thinning medication, often called an anticoagulant.

Warning signs

Blood clots commonly occur in the legs. Although many people experience no symptoms with a blood clot, here are some to look out for:

  • Mild to painful swelling
  • Calf pain when your toes are extended
  • Tenderness
  • A warm sensation

Blood clots may also occur in the heart (which is less common), the abdomen, the brain, and the lungs. A blood clot that occurs in the lungs is referred to as a pulmonary embolism, and will often cause noticeable symptoms, including:

  • Blood in the cough
  • Mild to severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath that worsens with physical exertion

If you think you may be experiencing a blood clot, talk to your doctor right away. Even if you are just experiencing chest pain, it may be a sign of another issue such as a heart attack or stroke—you’re better safe than sorry. They may recommend you receive a diagnostic imaging test to determine the source and location of the problem. CT scans (CT angiography) are commonly used to diagnose blood clots in the lungs, and ZendyHealth can help you save up to 70% on the retail cost with a board-certified provider.  Ultrasound studies may be ordered to diagnose DVT’s in the lower extremities.

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