Yearly, thousands of people develop blood clots in their veins. This is a condition known as VTE – venous thromboembolism. It is a very serious condition with potentially fatal consequences. However, the majority of blood clots can be avoided and treated as well. Preventative medicine is always the best however. Hence, you know you are at risk of developing them, you should take steps to avoid.
Here, we will look mainly at clots that occur in veins. It is also possible for clots to form in arteries, and this condition is known as an arterial thrombosis.
Who Gets Blood Clots?
Technically, blood clots can happen to anybody. However, those people who get insufficient movement or who are unwell are at a greater risk. It is likely that you have heard of people developing thrombosis whilst on long plane journey, as well as the risk of developing them when taking the contraceptive pill. However, the most likely place to develop a blood clot is actually in hospital. This is because you will have to spend extended periods of time immobile in bad. Research has demonstrated that around 65% of all blood clots happen during or just after a hospital stay.
Hospital Blood Clots
Every year, thousands of people die as a result of blood clots that developed in hospital. In fact, more people die of hospital-related clots than of road accidents, hospital superbugs or breast cancer. Naturally, the government is aware of this issue, as well as of the fact that these deaths are completely preventable. Hence, hospital staff have now been asked to assess how high the risk is of each individual patient developing a blood clot. If this risk is high, they now take preventative measures, such as providing pressure socks.
How to Protect Yourself from Blood Clots Causes
You may be worried about getting a blood clot yourself. There are many things you can do to protect yourself, however. Firstly, since we have established that the majority of clots happen in hospitals, ask your nurse whether they have assess you. If they have, you should have been provided with support socks. Make sure you wear these, for the duration of your stay in hospital and for however long you are told to continue to (this can be anything from three days to six weeks, depending on your condition).
The reason why you were in hospital will largely determine your risk. Those who have had surgery or who have had to have a blood transfusion, those who are overweight and those who will spend a considerable amount of time bound to their bed are at a much higher risk.
There are other risk factors that you need to be aware of. For instance, women who are undergoing HRT treatment or who take certain contraceptive pills will be more closely monitored. Similarly, pregnant women or those who have just had a baby are also at increased risk, as are those who are over 60 and those who have had clots in the past.
If you are at a significant risk of developing clots, you will not only be offered the socks, but also blood thinning medication and possibly foot pumps.
If you are worried about developing clots, make sure you speak to your nurse or doctor about this. They will be able to explain your assessment to you and advise you on what is best for your health. There are a few questions you may want to ask, including:
• Whether or not you are at risk
• How likely it is that you will have bleeding problems
• What you should do if medication to prevent blood clots is causing you problems
There are a number of things you can do yourself to reduce the risk of developing clots, whether you are due a hospital stay or not. Blood clots prevention is always safer, easier and generally better than curing them after the fact. First of all, make sure your BMI is in the healthy range. Secondly, stop smoking. If you are taking HRT or a combination pill, speak to your medical professional about whether or not you should stop taking these.
In hospital itself, ensure you keep completely hydrated. You should also always wear your compression socks, except when you are in the shower. If you have been given any other tools to prevent blood clots, use them as instructed. Furthermore, try to stay mobile as much as possible.
Blood Clot Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes, for all our best intentions, we still develop either deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis’s are blood clots generally found in the legs, which are deep inside the vein. These often present no symptoms, although some redness or leg swelling can occur, as can cramps. A blood clot in leg is the most common type of clot. If the clot dislodges, this is known as an embolus, and this embolus can move to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. This is often fatal and the blood clots in lungs are nicknamed the “silent killer”, because it can strike quickly and without warning. Usually, people with a PE are breathless, have pain in their chest and collapse.
Remember that blood clots can be treated if caught on time. Hence, if you suspect you have one, make sure you see a medical professional straight away.