10 Medical Conditions That Cause Blood Clots

what causes blood clots
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The blood is a vital fluid in the body that transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body using a network of blood vessels. In case of damage to a blood vessel, the body responds by initiating the process of blood clotting, which is aimed at reducing loss of blood from the injury. It is a process that involves several chemicals, enzymes, and cells in the body.

Blood clotting is a healthy course that normally takes place in response to impaired tissue integrity. It is a life-saving defense mechanism towards stopping bleeding.

However, when blood clot forms unnecessarily, it can cause serious medical problems such as heart attack and stroke. When this happens, the functionality of the heart and many other parts of the body will be negatively affected.

With a clot present in the artery that supplies blood to a body organ, the affected organ may cease to function properly.

Blood clots can develop in different areas of the body which may lead to inability of the blood to reach organs such as the brain, lungs, and/or other parts due to the blockage made by the clot.

In extreme cases, it can result to complications that could be worse and even cause the death of the patient.

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What causes blood blots? Below are some medical conditions to look for.

1. Damage to blood vessels

A damage caused to a blood vessel will lead to the activation of the blood platelets, which in turn, initiate the process of blood clotting.

Platelets stick to the walls of the blood vessel around the injured area and unto each other. The cells accomplish this by changing in shape and forming a plug that fills the damaged area to stop it from leaking blood.

When active, platelets release chemicals that attract more platelets to proceed to the next step which is the formation of a mesh-like structure.

The mesh-like structure covers the surface of the damaged tissue. However, it is dependent on some other factors like the coagulant factors that enable the process to occur as necessary.

2. Thrombocytosis

The disorder in which the body displays excessive blood platelet count is called thrombocytosis.

An excess in the number of platelets results in abnormal clumping that in turn leads to unnecessary clotting events in the blood vessels. The extent of the damage is dependent on the size of the blood clot formed.

The number of platelets usually exceeds normal levels due to underlying medical conditions and blood disorders that can cause acceleration in the rate of platelet formation in the bone marrow.

3. Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a display of irregular heartbeat. Ineffective contractions bring about lower blood pressures.

In wider blood vessels, there might be no pressure at all. Therefore, blood will be stagnant, forming clots. The disorder increases the risk for the occurrence of stroke and other heart complications.

Symptoms may include dizziness and fatigue. Doctors may recommend certain medications and absolute changes in lifestyle to manage the condition. In extreme cases, procedures such as cardioversion or surgery may be advised.

4. Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is a condition of the arteries that occurs where the blood artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart becomes thick and stiff. This restricts the flow of blood to organs and tissues.

Normally, arteries are flexible and elastic, but with a risk to harden over time due to old age. The reduced size of the arterial passageway in arteriosclerosis increases the chance of blood clots to form, especially if the blood is flowing at a lower pressure than normal.

5. Atherosclerosis

It is a particular type of arteriosclerosis that refers to the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the artery walls.

The condition slows down the flow of blood, increasing the chance of blood clot formation in the arteries. Sometimes, the arteries may completely be filled up with fats, resulting to more serious complications.

6. Heart failure

Heart failure can either be the result or cause for the formation of blood clots. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle fails to pump blood to the different body organs as necessary.

When that happens, the blood present in the veins and the arteries lacks the pressure it needs to circulate to each destination, leading to blood clots in the veins and arteries. The situation can be dangerous and may result to further health complications such as heart attack.

7. Certain medications

Some medications when used by certain individuals, due to certain underlying conditions and risk factors, can result to the formation of blood clots in the veins and arteries.

These medications include oral contraceptives, breast cancer medicines, and hormone therapy drugs. The medications’ mechanism of action tampers with the normal blood flow. This slows down blood and increases the risk of blood clot formation in critical organs.

In such patients, the problem can be resolved when the doctor changes the approach of drug treatment for the patient.

8. Inherited blood clotting disorders

There are certain blood clotting disorders that are genetically inherited. However, the problem does not usually manifest itself at a young age.

Upon reaching adulthood, the individual may start to show signs of unnecessary blood clot formation in the body. This makes it necessary for individuals with a family history of blood clotting disorders to undergo medical examination and evaluation at an earlier time to identify any unusual bodily changes and occurrences to facilitate a more effective treatment.

9. Antiphospholipid syndrome

This is another common cause of blood clotting that occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal proteins in the blood.

The extent of damage depends on the location and type of protein attacked. The dead cells resulting from the attack are the ones that clump together and form blood clots.

Antiphospholipid syndrome may cause blood clots in the arteries and veins. This is a blood disorder that can result from pregnancy complications, such as miscarriages and stillbirth.

10. Obesity

Obesity increases the chances of blood clotting in the veins and arteries. Obese individuals produce more adipokines, including leptin and adiponectin.

Adipokines contributes to insulin resistance and promotes chronic inflammation. The cytokin which is secreted by adipose tissue also enhances platelet activation.

Obesity also slows down the rate at which blood flows through the blood vessels due to narrowing. This leads to unnecessary blood clotting in the blood vessels as a result of reduced speed of the blood flow.


 

Key Takeaway:

Blood thinners are medicines used to prevent excessive and unnecessary blood clots from occurring; or in some patients, from recurring. The drug can be administered either by injection into the vein, under the skin, or orally taken in the form of a pill.

One of the most commonly used blood thinner is warfarin. Blood thinners are only given after a careful and detailed examination of the blood. This is to determine the suitability of the type of blood thinner and the possibility of adverse effects in the patient.

The presence of any other health condition will also influence the choice of blood thinner to use. In patients not advised to take blood thinners, the doctor will provide alternatives of other available treatment options in solving the underlying problem.

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Updated:

About the Author:

Melissa Gomez, RN, MSN is a board certified nurse and has been a contributing writer for the past five years. Ms. Gomez has a special focus on platelet-related illness prevention and health promotion.

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