A blood clot ("thrombus") occurs when blood converts from a liquid to a solid state. The normal function of a blood clot is to stop bleeding when you injure yourself.
Blood clots can occur in a deep vein (a vein that does not show through the skin surface) or in a superficial vein (one you can see through the skin).
Superficial clots are not generally a high risk. They can be treated with a warm compress and removing the cause of the clot (such as a catheter).
Blood clots can become a problem when they occur in a deep vein for two reasons:
- A clot can keep blood from moving normally.
- A clot could move to an area such as your lungs and cause a big problem.
Risk factors for deep vein blood clots include:
- Immobility. (When blood does not move easily through deep veins, it becomes stagnant. Stagnant blood tends to form a clot.
- Injuries which lead to immobilization
- Use of estrogens
- Being overweight
- If you previously had a clot, you are more prone to getting another blood clot.
Diagnosis generally starts with a discussion with your doctor as well as an examination. Suspicion that you may have a clot leads to a diagnostic test. The most common test these days is through the use of ultrasound. If you do have a blood clot, there are a variety of old and new medicines available. Speak with your doctor to determine which is the best for you. (If there is a question, Survivorship A to Z, provides a tool to help you determine which is the best from you particular point of view. See To Lern More)
NOTE: To reduce risk of experiencing a blood clot, avoid immobility.
- If you are immobile, try to move as early and as often as possible. Avoid prolonged periods where your extremeties or overally body are not being mobile.
- When travelling, get up and move around at least every two hours - more if possible.