Blood clots commonly form in the deep veins of the body, a circumstance known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. When a clot forms, it interferes with the natural circulation process, and may produce pain, swelling, discoloration and warmth in the affected area. If the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, it becomes a pulmonary embolism, which may be life threatening. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest pain that may get worse with deep breathing, coughing up blood, and rapid heart rate.
What Are Some Causes of Blood Clots?
Blood clots form when the natural circulation process of the body is interrupted or restricted. If a vein is damaged, blood flow is slowed, or the blood’s clotting factor is increased by medication or hormones, the risk of a clot increases.
Surgery, inactivity, injury, and increases in certain hormones or medications can all create blood clots. Hormone replacement or therapy, like birth control pills, can increase blood clot risk. Smoking, obesity, and inactivity are all risk factors as well. When the body is at rest for an extended period, the calf muscles don’t do their normal job of assisting with circulation by contracting and pushing the blood out of the legs. Inactivity is a major contributor to clot formation.
How Can I Mitigate the Risks?
First, be aware of any family history or risk factors. Patients with a previous history of blood clots, a clotting disorder, and other risk factors should discuss steps for reducing their risk factors with their doctor. If you have a surgery planned, discuss your risk factors with your doctor, including family history. An often overlooked risk factor is inactivity due to extensive travel. Extended periods of sitting can increase your risk. Be sure to take frequent breaks and stretch your legs when required to sit for a period of time.
Dr. Ciuffo and the Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program
Dr. Ciuffo is dedicated to ensuring your heart is healthy. If you are in need of heart surgery and have any questions or how you should prepare for it, feel free to contact us at (330) 588-4676 or visit our contact page online.