What are blood clots?
Blood is a liquid that flows within blood vessels. It is constantly in motion as the heart pumps blood through arteries to the different organs and cells of the body. The blood is returned back to the heart by the veins. Veins are squeezed when muscles in the body contract and push the blood back to the heart. Blood clotting is an important mechanism to help the body repair injured blood vessels. Blood consists of: ·
red blood cells containing hemoglobin that carry oxygen to cells and remove carbon dioxide (the waste product of metabolism),
white blood cells that fight infection,
platelets that are part of the clotting process of the body, and
blood plasma, which contains fluid, chemicals and proteins that are important for bodily functions. Complex mechanisms exist in the bloodstream to form clots where they are needed. If the lining of the blood vessels becomes damaged, platelets are recruited to the injured area to form an initial plug. These activated platelets release chemicals that start the clotting cascade, using a series of clotting factors produced by the body. Ultimately, fibrin is formed, the protein that crosslinks with itself to form a mesh that makes up the final blood clot. The medical term for a blood clot is a thrombus (plural= thrombi). When a thrombus is formed as part of a normal repair process of the body, there is little consequence. Unfortunately, there are times when a thrombus (blood clot) will form when it is not needed, and this can have potentially significant consequences Blood clot facts
Blood clots form when blood fails to circulate adequately. ·
Arterial thrombi form when a plaque ruptures and promotes an acute clot formation. ·
Venous thrombosis occurs when prolonged immobilization allows blood to pool in an extremity and then clot. ·
The diagnosis is suggested by the history and physical examination and often confirmed with a radiologic test. ·
Treatment may require surgery, anti-coagulation medications, or a combination of the two. ·
Prevention of blood clots involves attention to the risk factors for vascular disease. ·
Serious complications can arise from blood clots, and individuals should seek medical care if they believe a blood clot exists. What causes blood clots?
Comment on thisRead 39 CommentsHYPERLINK "http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/submit-patient-comments.asp?questionid=1066"Share Your Story[->0] Blood clots form when there is damage to the lining of a blood vessel, either an artery or a vein. The damage may be obvious, such as a laceration, or may occur on the microscopic level. As well, blood will begin to clot if it stops moving and becomes stagnant. Venous thrombosis or blood clots in a vein occur when a person becomes immobilized and muscles are not contracting to push blood back to the heart. This stagnant blood begins to form small clots along the walls of the vein. This initial clot can gradually grow to partially or completely occlude or block the vein and prevent blood from returning to the heart. An analogy to this process is a slow moving river. Over time, weeds and algae start to accumulate along the banks of the river where the water flows more slowly. Gradually, as the weeds start to grow, they begin to invade the center of the river because they can withstand the pressure of the oncoming water flow. Arterial thrombi (blood clots in an artery) occur by a different mechanism. For those with atherosclerotic disease, plaque deposits form along the lining of the artery and grow to cause narrowing of the vessel. This is the disease process that may causeheart attack[->1], stroke[->2], or peripheral artery disease[->3]. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form at the site of that rupture and can completely or partially occlude the blood flow at that point. Blood clots in the heart. Inatrial fibrillation[->4], the atrium or upper chamber of the heart does not beat in an organized manner....
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