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August 25, 2016
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
If your blood doesn’t clot you are in serious danger. Blood
clots are clumps of blood and they are the first defense
against bleeding. Blood clots protect the flow of blood by
fitting a plug in a leak that forms in the body. When you get
a cut or injury, a blood clot helps stop the bleeding. But
some blood clots are not beneficial and they happen
without a good reason.
Blood clots that keep forming in your veins when there
hasn’t been an injury, and which don’t dissolve naturally,
may require medical attention. You may keep getting blood
clots for a number of reasons – and sometimes the blood
clots can affect your heart and your lungs.
What are the main reasons why you keep getting blood
clots? What do you need to do?
What Causes Blood Clots?
A blood clot forms when the components of blood,
platelets, and blood plasma thicken, producing a gel-like
plug. This process may be caused by an injury, or it may
happen without one.
Sometimes blood clots can travel to other parts of your
body and cause harm.
Conditions and medicines that are associated with frequent
blood clots include atherosclerosis, oral contraceptives,
hormone therapy drugs, breast cancer medications, heart
arrhythmias, obesity, peripheral artery disease, pregnancy,
stroke, smoking, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and
Anyone can get a blood clot but you are more likely to get
one if you cannot move very much, or you have been
unwell. Blood clots may sometimes develop after you have
been sitting down for hours on a plane.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), 50 percent of all blood clots in the veins
actually happen during or soon after a hospital stay or
In 2010 the CDC stated that blood clots in the veins are "a
major public health problem that affects an estimated
300,000 to 600,000 individuals in the United States each
Can You Feel a Blood Clot Coming On? --- Symptoms of a
In many cases, you will never know that you have a blood
clot as they cause no symptoms.
But sometimes a clot of blood will appear in one of your leg
veins. This is called a "deep vein thrombosis", or DVT, and
it can cause swelling in the calf, pain, tenderness, redness
and warmness in the skin.
In another case, a blood clot may get pushed along the
bloodstream and end up lodged in the lung. This is called a
"pulmonary embolism" and it can be signaled by shortness
of breath and pain when breathing deeply, fast breathing,
and blood when coughing.
Both conditions, caused by blood clots, require urgent
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you suffer from frequent blood clots when there has not
been an injury, watch out for the following signs, which
require swift medical attention.
For example, if you have a fast heartbeat, a cough with
blood, light-headedness, difficulty breathing, chest pain,
weakness in the face, leg or arm, sudden changes in vision,
or pain that leads to the shoulder or jaw.
Self Care Methods to Avoid Blood Clots
If you keep getting blood clots, reduce the risk by avoiding
sitting down for long periods of time.
If you travel by plane, get up and move around as much as
After surgery or bed rest, get up and move as soon as you
Blood is made up 55% of plasma which itself is 92%
water, so your blood is almost exactly 50% water. One of
the best ways to avoid a blood clot is to thin your blood out
by drinking plenty of water.
Drink plenty of fluids, lose weight, lower your blood
pressure, and stop smoking.
We also found the following recent scientific reports that
highlight some useful ways to help prevent and treat
frequent, dangerous, blood clots.
1. Your Doctor Can Use a New Type of Scan to Find Blood
According to a 2015 study, a new type of probe developed
by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in
Boston helps to identify blood clots in a single scan of the
body, which helps significantly speed up the process of
finding blood clots.
The faster a blood clot can be found, the better the chances
it can be removed before it causes a stroke or heart attack.
Currently, scans only allow doctors to see one area of the
body at a time.
The new probe uses positron emission tomography (PET)
to complete a faster, more efficient full body scan.
2. Be Careful After Giving Birth to Avoid Blood Clots
Women have an increased risk of blood clots for up to 12
weeks after giving birth, says a 2014 study from Weill
Cornell Medical College in New York.
Pregnant women tend to form blood clots in the legs of the
pelvic area, again, deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The study looked at 1,687,930 women giving birth in
California between 2005 and 2010. During the weeks zero
to six after birth, the risk of a blood clot was 10.8 times
higher. The risk was 2.2 times higher in weeks seven to 12,
and 1.4 times higher in weeks 13 to 18.
Pregnant women and those that have recently given birth
should pay particular attention to swelling or pain in the
leg, chest pressure or pain, difficulty breathing, severe
headache, or loss of vision and speech.
3. Use Inflatable Leg Wraps to Help Prevent Blood Clots
People who have had a stroke can reduce their risk of
further blood clots by using a compression device that is
wrapped around the legs, according to a 2013 study from
the University of Edinburgh in the UK.
Thus, the risk of dying after a stroke is lowered by gently
squeezing the legs as it reduces the risk of a deep vein
thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins in the legs.
Over 2,800 stroke patients took part in the trial.
4. Avoid Prolonged Sitting to Reduce the Risk of Blood
Women who sit for extended periods everyday are twice or
three times as likely to develop blood clots in the lungs
compared to active women, according to a 2011 study from
Massachusetts General Hospital.
When you lead a sedentary lifestyle you are at higher risk
of developing pulmonary embolism.
The researchers looked at 69,950 female nurses in an 18-
year study and questioned them about their lifestyle habits.
Women who spent the most time sitting down (more than
41 hours a week outside of work) were twice as likely to
develop a blood clot leading to pulmonary embolism.
5. Grape Seed Extracts Can Help Prevent Blood Clots
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) come from pine bark
or grape seed, and they are believed to work in a similar
way to aspirin, thinning the blood and decreasing the risk
of blood clots in the legs while flying.
A 2004 study from L'Aquila University, Italy looked at
whether this was the case, and studied 198 people at high
risk of blood clots.
Some people were given 200mg of OPCs two to three
hours before the flight, while others were given the OPCs
afterwards, or a placebo. The results showed that OPCs
significantly reduced the risk of blood clots.
6. Speaking of Aspirin, It Also Helps Reduce Blood Clots
Scientists from the University of Australia have discovered
that taking a daily aspirin reduces the risk of a blood clot by
42% compared to people who did not take an aspirin.
The 2014 study led by Dr. John Simes will need to be
repeated before we can say that aspirin works as well as
other commercial blood thinners such as Warfarin,
according to the American Heart Association's spokesman,
Dr. Gregory Fonarow. Right now, pharmaceutica drug
thinners can reduce clots by 80% to 90%, Fonarow says.
7. Eating Dark Chocolate Can Cut the Risk of a Blood Clot
A 2006 study from Johns Hopkins University says a little bit
of dark chocolate every day can help prevent the
development of a blood clot. Researchers say that dark
chocolate helps to thin the blood, in the same way as
aspirin. Researchers suggest that flavonoids in chocolate
can help to reduce platelet clumping – but the chocolate
must be dark with minimal butter and sugar content.
7. Cut Excessive Daily TV Watching to Prevent Blood Clots
If you watch more than five hours of TV a day you are at
greater risk of dying from a blood clot in the lung -
pulmonary embolism – according to a 2016 study from
Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine.
The researchers looked at data from 86,024 participants
between 1988 and 1990 and found that people who
watched TV for 5 or more hours a day had a 2.5-times
higher risk of death from a pulmonary embolism.
What can you do? Getting up, standing up, stretching, and
tensing and relaxing your leg muscles while watching TV
can help reduce the risk of blood clots, as can getting more
active in the first place and reducing TV watching time.
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