Ins and Outs of Blood Clots, and Understanding Blood Clot Symptoms

Have you ever thought about how much blood is in your body? The average volume of the life-sustaining liquid in an adult is between 4.5 and 5.5 liters, or about 7% of your overall weight. Every last milliliter of the stuff is extremely valuable. Losing a small quantity of it when you cut your finger or scuff up your knee isn’t a big deal, but you could be in greater danger if you were to lose a lot of blood. Fortunately, platelets in blood give it the ability to form a blood clot, another example of the human body’s impressive defence mechanism.

Sometimes, however, a blood will clot when it shouldn’t, and this can actually pose a health risk in itself. For this reason it’s good to be able to identify blood clot symptoms.

The issue of course is that blood clots are not detectable when they occur inside the body, and not in response to any type of flesh wound. There can still be blood clot symptoms and signs of a blood clot though, and knowing them is definitely beneficial as blood clots can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other harmful health conditions if allowed to develop unchecked. Let’s start here by defining what is a blood clot, and then move to what causes blood clots and how to get rid of blood clots.

What is a Blood Clot?

Blood platelets (thrombocytes) are a component of blood that are tasked with reacting to blood vessel injury by clumping. Platelets beginning to clump is how a blood clot begins to form, and the process by which they clump at the damage site to stop bleeding there is called hemostasis. The first few platelets that clump aren’t able to form the blood clot on their own, so what they do is release chemicals that call out for more platelets to come over and assist with the task.

So to answer what is a blood clot exactly, it’s a large gathering of blood platelets that have clumped together to form a thickened and more solid mass of blood that is supposed to serve in preventing additional blood loss from a wound.

But the key part of that is ‘supposed to’ because, as we alluded to above, sometimes blood clots form without any wound opening needing to be blocked. It’s then that they become a risk and blood clot symptoms need to be identified.

What Causes Blood Clots?

We’ve determined that, ideally, what causes a blood clot to form is a flesh wound that damages blood vessels and results in blood being lost from the body. What we’ll discuss here is what causes blood clots to form when they’re not in response to a wound and become a threat rather than a benefit.

Cholesterol isn’t a bad thing – in fact it’s a necessary building block needed by the body, but in moderation. Most people know that too much cholesterol is the primary cause of clogged arteries and all the health risks that come with them. Waxy cholesterol forms plaques on artery walls when there’s enough of an excess of it to do so.

If these plaques start breaking up, the blood clotting process is initiated. A blood clot that’s not being sent to work really has ‘nowhere to go’ and it’s this scenario where the risks of heart attack or stroke are increased big time.

Two other conditions that can cause unnecessary blood clots are atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis.

Signs of a Blood Clot, and Blood Clot Symptoms

As mentioned, there are no readily visible signs of a blood clot for a person who has one. This makes it a challenge to identify blood clot symptoms in the same way you could do for other health conditions. Different blood clot symptoms exist for the different types of risks those clots pose or the source of the blood clot. They are as follows:

  • Blood clot posing heart attack risk – The blood clot symptoms a person may experience here are chest pain (angina) that is based in the center of the chest and then moves to the back and left arm. It is rarer for the pain to move the right arm, but it can happen. Even less common but still possible is feeling this pain in the abdomen area.

Other blood clot symptoms for heart attack risk are irregular or elevated heart rate, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, or in worst cases fainting or collapsing. 

  • Blood clot posing stroke risk – The blood clot symptoms a person may experience here will occur on the opposite side from where the blood clot is creating a blockage in the brain. Signs of a blood clot then are loss of feeling on one side of the face, arm or leg, speech problems, confusion, blurred vision, severe headache, or loss of coordination.
  • Blood clot resulting from inflammation of superficial or surface veins – Blood clot symptoms resulting from vein inflammation is general localized pain.
  • Blood clot resulting from DVT (deep vein thrombosis) – Blood clot symptoms here include leg pain, swelling, redness, and increased warmth, sharp pain when a foot is flexed upward, or dull ache and tightness in calf when walking.

How to Get Rid of Blood Clots

Once you’ve identified your blood clot symptoms and seen your physician regarding them then he or she will most likely put you on blood thinner medications. Common ones include Warfarin, Lovenox, and Fondaparinux. Depending on the nature of you blood clot symptoms the doctor may also put you on anti-coagulant medications like Pradaxa or Xarelto. For blood clots resulting from DVT it is common to wear an elastic compression stocking on the leg to alleviate blood clot symptoms.

Preventing blood clots is the best approach to take, as it is for most health ailments that pose serious risks to your liveliness and well being. To prevent blood clots, make sure that you don’t have high LDL cholesterol or triglycerides levels and that you also don’t have high blood pressure. If you’re a smoker, quit as soon as possible. Last but not least, eat healthily and ensure that you’re at a health body weight and don’t have an excess BMI (body mass index) number.