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Blood Clots


A blood clot ("thrombus")  occurs when blood converts from a liquid to a solid state. The normal function of a blood clot is to stop bleeding when you injure yourself.

Blood clots can occur in a deep vein (a vein that does not show through the skin surface) or in a superficial vein (one you can see through the skin).

Superficial clots are not generally a high risk. They can be treated with a warm compress and removing the cause of the clot (such as a catheter). 

Blood clots can become a problem when they occur in a deep vein for two reasons:

  • A clot can keep blood from moving normally.
  • A clot could move to an area such as your lungs and cause a big problem.

Risk factors for deep vein blood clots include:

  • Immobility. (When blood does not move easily through deep veins, it becomes stagnant. Stagnant blood tends to form a clot.
  • Injuries which lead to immobilization
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of estrogens
  • Being overweight
  • If you previously had a clot,  you are more prone to getting another blood clot.

Diagnosis generally starts with a discussion with your doctor as well as an examination. Suspicion that you may have a clot leads to a diagnostic test. The most common test these days is through the use of ultrasound. If you do have a blood clot, there are a variety of old and new medicines available. Speak with your doctor to determine which is the best for you. (If there is a question, Survivorship A to Z, provides a tool to help you determine which is the best from you particular point of view. See To Lern More)

NOTE: To reduce risk of experiencing a blood clot, avoid immobility. 

  • If you are immobile, try to move as early and as often as possible. Avoid prolonged periods where your extremeties or overally body are not being mobile. 
  • When travelling, get up and move around at least every two hours - more if possible.

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