Blood Clots

A blood clot is a jelly-like mass of thickened blood. Your body needs to be able to clot blood as this is the normal way bleeding is stopped to begin the healing following an injury. This process involves complex chemical reactions between many substances that are present in the blood plasma. Hemophilia is a condition where one or more of these substances are absent. When a clot is within a blood vessel it is termed a thrombus.

A blood clot becomes harmful when it can block an artery or vein to stop the blood flow, termed thrombosis. A thrombosis in a brain artery can cause a stroke to occur. A thrombosis in the leg or pelvic vein is a deep venous thrombosis. If this type of thrombis dislodges and travels through the bloodstream it may block an artery in the lung causing pulmonary embolism

Symptoms of a deep venous thrombosis are pain in the calf or leg muscle, swelling, tenderness, discoloration, or prominent veins. All, one, or none of these may be present for a deep venous thrombosis to be present. If you suscept a blood clot or have these symptoms please do not delay an examination by your podiatrist or other physician. This type of injury can become life threatening.

Causes can be due to a large number of factors. Those at risk of developing a blood clot are those with arteriosclerosis due to the rough inner wall of the vessel and slower blood flow. Patients with varicose veins also have a slower blood flow than a normal individual. Likewise, bed rest or immobilization where the muscular pumping action is decreased in the vessels can cause a slower flow of blood, resulting in a clot. Prolonged use of drugs such as birth control pills, pregnancy and smoking has also been strongly associated with blood clot formation.

Preventionof a blood clot can best be achieved by stopping use of nicotine products and birth control pills. An exercise routine can also be helpful, or if partially immobilized try keep the blood flow going by using other non-immobilized muscles in the lower extremity.

Diagnosis of a blood clot can be made via different techniques. Objective testing includes impedance plethysmography (IPG), ultrasonography, and venography. Each of these techniques require a physicians order and usually is done at a hospital or outpatient radiology facility.

Treatment once a diagnosis of a deep venous thrombosis is made is usually aimed at thinning the blood to prevent further formation of clots and a pulmonary embolism. This treatment usually is started in the hospital where you are closely monitored. The treatment may continue for 6-12 weeks or put on a lifetime level of medication for further prevention.