-By Dr. P C Gupta – Care Hospital
Blood clots or thrombus can form in blood vessels due to many reasons. They can travel into limb arteries or arteries to brain or intestines from the heart or aorta. They can form primarily in arteries or veins due to an increased tendency for clotting. This could be following major surgery, severe dehydration, prolonged bed rest for illness or fracture, presence of cancer and cancer chemotherapy, central vein catheterization, use of oral contraceptive pills,increasing age, hospitalization for critical illness and in people with familial tendency. COVID-19 has emerged as the latest and an important cause of blood clots.
Clots can lead to various complications depending on their location. Clots from veins can potentially travel to the lungs resulting in what we call pulmonary embolism, a potentially life-threatening condition. Clots in arteries can damage the organ that they supply and could result in stroke, heart attack, loss of limb or intestinal problems.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid limb or life-threatening complications. However, prevention is perhaps the most important aspect clotting.
- Avoiding obesity and maintain proper body weight
- Lead a reasonably active life
- Good water intake
- Take care of heart conditions where clots form
- Preventive medication during hospitalization and after major surgery
- Evaluation in case of family history of clotting disorders.
- No tobacco uses.
- Use of compression stockings when advised and during long haul flights.
Sudden onset of pain or swelling or both in the legs, pain in the abdomen, sudden breathlessness or chest pain or stroke could be due to clots. It is important to seek immediate medical attention to avoid complications like long term morbidity, limb loss or even death.
Your Doctor will evaluate clinically and may ask for some investigations like D-dimer, ultrasound, CT angiography amongst others to confirm the diagnosis and plan treatment.
Typically, the treatment of blood clots includes-
anticoagulant: medicines to reduce the clotting tendency.
Clot buster therapy: In this, a catheter is directed into the clot and clot is dissolved using thrombolytic therapy. The clots can also be sucked out using specially designed catheters.
IVC filters or umbrellas can be placed to prevent a large clot from going to lungs This may be required when anticoagulant therapy cannot be given due to bleeding problems.
Surgery to remove blood clots: usually an emergency.
However, a healthy lifestyle will quite often prevent major clots. Eat healthy (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain, adequate protein, avoid overeating, no trans fats), be healthy (avoid obesity), walk healthy (45 minutes of walking at least 4 days a week) and drink healthy (adequate water).