What Causes Blood Clots And What They Feel Like!<< Go Back
Blood clots are clumps of blood that play a crucial role since they help you stop bleeding excessively. They form as the body's natural response to a cut or injury. They plug the injured blood vessel to stop the bleeding which means they are lifesaving phenomenon. However, they can also form in cases where they are not needed and can lead to serious medical issues like stroke and heart attack.
Some clots also form within the vein without any reason and are unable to dissolve naturally. Most commonly, such blood clots need immediate medical attention particularly if they are in critical areas like the brain, legs, lungs, or heart. So, what causes blood clots and what does a blood clot feel like? Let's find out!
What causes blood clots?
Numerous factors result in the formation of blood clots.
A blood clot starts to form when the blood flowing through your body makes contact with certain substances either in the walls of the blood vessel or your skin. When both of them make contact, it is an indication that either the wall or the skin is broken.
Waxy cholesterol plaques in the arteries also contain these substances. So, in the case where the plaque breaks open, the clotting process will start. Many strokes and heart attacks take place because of the sudden burst of a plaque in the brain or heart.
Another factor that causes blood clots to form is the improper flow of blood. If the blood starts to gather in your heart or the blood vessels, then the platelets can stick together, forming a clot. For example, in deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and atrial fibrillation, blood moves slowly, thus increasing the chance of blood clots.
Blood clots can also result because of an external injury, or they can also occur inside the blood vessels without an obvious injury. When an injury occurs, the platelets and plasma proteins thicken to form a semisolid mass. Then, the blood clot travels to other body parts and causes harm.
Blood clots can also form for the following reasons:
- A family history of blood clots
- Heart failure
- Factor V Leiden
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
- A few medicines like hormone therapy drugs and oral contraceptives
- Heart attack
- Heart arrhythmias
- Peripheral artery disease
- Prolonged sitting
What causes blood clots in arteries, veins, and the heart?
As mentioned earlier, a blood clot can form when the lining of a blood vessel is damaged (whether it is a vein or an artery). The damage might be invisible, or it can be seen in the form of a laceration or cut. Moreover, they can also occur when blood becomes stagnant.
In veins, typically, blood clots form when the person's muscles fail to contract in order to push the blood back toward the heart. As a result, the blood becomes stagnant and starts to form small blood clots along the vein's walls. Gradually, the clot can grow to block the vein and prevent the blood from completely returning to the heart.
Meanwhile, in an artery, the process is entirely different and generally occurs because of a condition called atherosclerotic disease. The plaque is deposited along the artery's lining and continues to grow, causing the artery to become extremely narrow. Then, when the plaque ruptures, blood clots form and partially or completely stop the blood flow.
In the heart, clots usually form in the ventricle as a result of a heart attack in which heart muscles are injured and are unable to normally contract. So, when the damaged area doesn't contract when the rest of the heart muscles do, blood can stagnate and cause clot formation.
What does a blood clot feel like?
In different parts of the body, a blood clot will feel differently. Below is detail about what does a blood clot feel like in different body parts including the leg, brain, abdomen, and chest.
In the leg
Blood clots in the veins are called DVT, and while a clot in the legs is not too harmful, the clot can break loose and get stuck in the lungs, leading to fatal conditions such as pulmonary embolism. The signs you will see include tenderness, redness, swelling, and pain.
The pain will be similar to the pain of a muscle cramp. However, in case of a blood clot, elevating your leg or icing it won't tone down the swelling. Moreover, your leg might feel warm, and you might see a bluish or reddish hue to your skin.
In the brain
Blood clots in the carotid arteries of the neck or the chambers of the heart can move towards the brain and cause a stroke. The signs you might see include numbness or weakness on one side of the body, difficulty in speaking or thinking clearly, disturbances in vision, and difficulty in walking. In a stroke, you might not feel any pain; however, there might be a headache.
In the abdomen
A blood clot in the major veins of the intestine drains blood. It can also stop the circulation of blood to the intestine and lead to internal damage. The symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and boating. If the pain worsens with time or after you eat something, it could be a sign of a blood clot.
In the chest
A blood clot in the arteries can cause a heart attack. It can also travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism. The symptoms include chest pain that worsens with every breath. The pain may be accompanied with a cough, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath.
Meanwhile, severe pain in the center of your chest might be a sign of angina or heart attack. The pain might also radiate to your arm, shoulder, and left side of the jaw.
Medicines for blood clots
A couple of medicines that can help treat blood clots include:
Eliquis (Apixaban) can prevent blood clots in those that have had a knee or hip replacement surgery. This medicine can also be used to prevent blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation.
Pradaxa contains an ingredient called dabigatran etexilate and is classified as a direct thrombin inhibitor. It can help stop the formation of blood clots from forming in the blood vessels after knee or hip replacement surgery.
Wrapping it up
Knowing what causes blood clots can help people prevent having to experience such a condition. Also, blood clots, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. So, seek professional help as soon as it's required.
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