What are Thrombosis & Embolism? (VIDEO)
cardiovascular system. Blood clots are composed primarily of platelets (cell fragments in the blood that assist in clotting) and fibrin (an insoluble protein fiber formed as part of the clotting process). They may contain red blood cells as well. Read more
There are numerous risk factors for thrombosis, because there are many different types and causes for the condition. Thrombi may form in the arteries, veins, or heart.
Arterial thrombi (blood clots that form in the arteries) generally form in conditions of rapid blood flow. Arterial thrombi often form when an arterial plaque (a hard, fatty deposit in the arterial walls) ruptures, and clots form as a response to the "injury." Read more
Deep veins lie deep inside your body among groups of muscles. They lead to the vena cava, your body's largest vein. The vena cava runs directly to your heart. The blood in your deep leg veins must fight against gravity to return to your heart, and it is helped in this by the squeezing of your leg muscles when you move your legs and feet. The valves in your veins help this process as well: when your leg muscles relax, they close to prevent the blood from flowing back down the legs. These actions together are termed the venous pump. Read more
The most dangerous complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is pulmonary embolism, which occurs when an embolism travels through the heart and into the lungs. There it lodges in an artery, typically where the artery forks, and blocks blood flow. The lungs are particularly vulnerable to embolisms because all the blood in the body passes through the lungs every time it circulates. Depending on the size of the embolism and where it lodges, the result can be asymptomatic (without symptoms) or a life-threatening medical emergency in which large amounts of lung tissue, deprived of blood, die. Often not one but many embolisms shower the lungs during an episode of pulmonary embolism. Read more
To determine whether a DVT is present, the doctor will ask the patient about his or her health, medical history, and symptoms. However, a DVT may be asymptomatic (without symptoms), or pain and swelling may be very slight. Moreover, symptoms of DVT are common to other conditions as well. Read more
It's wise to use preventive measures before and after any event that might increase your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis, especially if you are already at risk.
- When sitting for long periods of time, exercise your lower leg muscles to improve circulation in your legs. Flex your feet so that the calves of your legs are stretched, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
- After an illness or surgery, get out of bed as soon as possible. If you can't, do leg exercises as described above.
- During a long airplane flight, get up and walk around every hour and drink lots of nonalcoholic and uncaffeinated beverages. Do the leg exercises described above every 20 minutes.
- After some types of surgery, take anticoagulants as prescribed by your doctor (for those at increased risk). Be aware that foods high in vitamin K, like leafy greens and canola and soybean oils, can affect how anticoagulants work.