Blood clots are the results of the coagulation of blood in order to stop bleeding from injury, but it can be very dangerous, even fatal, under abnormal circumstances. Technically, a blood clot is the inappropriate triggering of the coagulation process in an uninjured or slightly injured vessel.
Many thrombogenic substances exist in the skin or blood vessel walls. These substances are, under normal circumstances, safely separated from flowing blood, and their contact with blood usually means the blood vessel wall has been ruptured and is bleeding. There are two general categories of blood clots. Superficial phlebitis, or a clot formed in the small veins close to the skin's surface, may result in localized redness, pain and swelling. It this type of blood clot rarely causes complications and requires minimal treatment.
Deep vein thrombosis, or a clot formed inside the larger, deeper veins, can cause more severe and widespread symptoms in the affected area, usually the leg, and consequently may cause more serious damage to the body. A blood clot is a symptom of a larger condition. There are many potential causes of blood clots, and one should work with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Medical Treatment for Blood Clots
Blood clot treatment can take many forms, depending on the type and cause of clotting taking place. Anticoagulant medications (blood thinners), such as heparin and warfarin, are often used to inhibit the formation and growth of existing clots. They slow the time it take for blood to clot and can prevent further clotting. Heparin is a strong, fast-acting blood thinner given through a need inserted into a vein (IV), but it can also be given by injection under the skin.
IV heparin works in minutes, and is most commonly given in the hospital. The advantages of heparin is it's fast action and low cost. The disadvantages to this medical treatment for blood clots include the need for frequent blood tests to monitor the levels of anticoagulation and the need for hospitalization (usually 5-10 days) for further injections. The side effects include bleeding, skin rash, headache, cold symptoms, upset stomach, and loss of bone strength.
Warfarin is a long-term blood thinner administered in pill form. Its advantages are its low cost and lack of required hospitalization. Disadvantages include bleeding, headache, rash, hair loss, skin breakdown, purple toe syndrome, and elevated liver enzymes. One should inform a consulting physician of all medications being taken, including herbal and over-the-counter drugs.
Lifestyle and Home Treatment for Blood Clots
Though there are no blood clot cures, there are some lifestyle and home treatments for blood clots that one can adopt in order to reduce the risk. One can try to avoid sitting for long periods. For example, if traveling by airplane frequently, walking the aisle periodically will promote circulation. After a surgery or prescribed bed rest, the sooner one begins to move again the better. Do not needlessly delay physical motion because it could cause more harm down the road. However, do not rush into activity either.
Physicians and nurses work hard to get people moving after surgery or while in the hospital for medical reasons. Patients are often given tight stockings to promote blood return from the legs and prevent pooling of blood. If unsure, consult with a physician for the best course of action. Those with heart and blood related conditions such as diabetes should follow strict regimens prescribed by his or her physician in order to reduce the risk of blood clotting.
More generally speaking, one can alter his or her lifestyle and reduce the risk of blood clotting by losing weight, lowering high blood pressure, quitting harmful habits such as smoking, and start to exercise regularly.