A blood clot (thrombus) occurs when muscles do not regularly contract to push blood back and forth to the heart causing blood to become “stagnant”. At this point, blood begins to coagulate (thicken) along the walls of veins which can partially or completely block the flow of blood causing potentially significant consequences. Blood clots can also form when the lining of a blood vessel, artery, or vein is damaged due to a cut or laceration and may not be visible to the naked eye. This type of blood clot occurs naturally and can best be described as a healing process for the human body.
Types of Blood Clots
- Vein (thrombosis) generally involves accidental injuries or cuts that form in minor veins allowing patients to see swollen areas immediately.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) blood clots may form in the deep blood vessels, most commonly in the legs and groin, and can block normal blood flow returning from the legs to the heart. Learn more+
- Artery (thrombus) occurs when plaque deposits form along the lining of the arteries and grow, causing the vessels to narrow. This disease process can cause heart attacks, strokes, or Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).
- Pulmonary Embolism (PE) can occur when a piece of a DVT clot breaks off and flows into the lungs causing blood vessel blockage. The size of the clot generally determines severity because clots that are close to the body center (proximal vein clots) are more likely to lead to death. Anticoagulant therapy is highly recommended.
- Superficial Vein Swelling (Thrombophlebitis) is the result of blood clots that form in veins that are close to the surface of the skin and are associated with inflammation.
Blood Clot Risk Factors
A risk factor is anything that may increase a person’s chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, diet, family history, or many other things. Although these risk factors increase a person’s risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors. The risk factors for arterial clots are those that are common to all diseases that cause narrowing of blood vessels, cholesterol plaque formation, and plaque rupture.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family History
Blood clot symptoms vary based on the location of the clot. Venous (thrombosis) leg clots cause swelling of the affected area, warmth, redness, and pain. Arterial (thrombus) blood clots cause pain in the involved area and is often the first symptom. More serious blood clots may cause the following:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sharp, stabbing chest pain that worsens with deep breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus
- Apprehension, anxiety
- Feeling faint
The treatment of blood clots often involves blood thinner medication to control the clotting process and are chosen based on clot severity, location, and patient medical history. Some of the most common blood thinners are listed below:
- Warfarin (Coumadin) is a blood thinner that blocks carious clotting factors that depend upon vitamin K. Every patient is unique when it comes to the dosing requirements for warfarin, and blood tests are routinely done to make certain that the blood is anti-coagulated to the appropriate level. There are numerous drug interactions with this medication that can cause the blood to become “too thin”. Warfarin dosing always needs to be monitored, and a patient should never alter the dose of this medication without consulting Atlanta Vascular and Vein Clinics.
- Apixaban (Eliquis), Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), Dabigatran (Pradaxa), and Edoxaban (Savaysa) are newer anticoagulant medications that have been approved for the treatment of certain types of atrial fibrillation, deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. They begin working almost immediately and do not need blood tests to monitor their activity.
- Heparin is often the first line drug in treating deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolus and is used routinely as part of the heart attack treatment protocol.
There is also a medical procedure called thrombolysis therapy that is used to treat patients that have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the legs, pelvic area, or upper areas of the body. During the procedure, Dr. Tilara injects clot-dissolving medication into the blood vessel or vein. The medication flows through the bloodstream to breakup the clot; however, if the clot does not dissolve Dr. Tilara will insert a long, thin, guided catheter into the vessel to cause the clot to break up. If DVT clots are left untreated, parts of the clot can detach and travel to an artery in the lungs, which results in acute pulmonary embolism. Learn more+
Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center is located in Lawrenceville, GA servicing patients living in Metro Atlanta, Gwinnett County and the surrounding communities including Duluth, Dacula, and Grayson. Call 678-878-4555 today to schedule an appointment today.