Blood Clots: Understanding the Risk Factors and How to Prevent Them

Our blood is supposed to clot; it is the body’s way of stopping the bleeding that results from a cut or injury. However, when blood clots on the inside of the veins or arteries, this is cause for concern.

According to the American Society of Hematology, “it is estimated that as many as 900,000 people are affected by [Deep Vein Thrombosis/Pulmonary Embolism] each year in the United States.” Despite the number of blood clot cases, the National Blood Clot Alliance states that “study after study has shown that fewer than 1 in 4 people have any recognition of blood clots or their signs and symptoms.”

Blood clots, both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, pose serious health threats to individuals of all ages; however, the risks can be more severe in the aging population. This makes awareness of the dangers and symptoms of blood clots crucial to prevention and treatment.

Vivage offers long-term and skilled nursing care throughout Colorado and Missouri, and we want to bring awareness to this condition. We are sharing not only the risk factors but also how to prevent blood clots through healthy habits. 

Are There Different Types of Blood Clots?

There are two main types of blood clots, based on location, that can form in the body: arterial clots and venous clots. From their names, you may be able to tell the main difference between the two. 

Arterial clots form in the arteries, causing symptoms to form almost immediately. Venous clots, on the other hand, form more slowly in the veins. Symptoms of venous clots become noticeable at a more gradual rate. Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism can be either arterial or venous. 

The Mayo Clinic defines deep vein thrombosis as a blood clot that “forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs.”

According to Medline Plus, “a pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. It usually happens when a blood clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.”

Potential Dangers of Blood Clots

Because blood clots inhibit oxygen-carrying blood cells from reaching vital organs in the body, many health complications can surface if the blood clot is not treated right away. These severe health concerns include:

  • Permanent damage to the lungs,
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood,
  • Damage to other organs in the body,
  • Stroke, 
  • Heart attack, 
  • And kidney failure.

Risk Factors of Developing a Blood Clot

Anyone could experience a blood clot at some point in life, but there are factors that put some individuals at a higher risk of developing one. 

These risk factors include:

  • Having a recent surgery,
  • Cancer and its treatment,
  • Major trauma or injury to the legs or arms,
  • Experiencing blood clots previously,
  • Lack of mobility,
  • The use of hormone replacement therapy,
  • Family history of blood clots,
  • Growing older,
  • And being overweight.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Blood Clot?

Because there are different types of blood clots that form in various systems of the body, there are unique signs and symptoms that relate to each one. 

Signs of arterial blood clots [arms or legs] can include:

  • Arm/fingers or leg feels cold
  • Muscle pain or spasm in the affected area
  • Numbness or tingling in arm or leg
  • Loss of color in arm or leg

Symptoms of venous blood clots and deep vein thrombosis can include:

  • Swelling in a leg or arm,
  • Pain or tenderness in a leg or arm,
  • Unusual warmth to the swollen or painful area of the leg or arm,
  • Cramping in a leg or arm,
  • And, redness or discoloration to the affected area.

Signs of a pulmonary embolism can include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath, 
  • Sharp pain in the chest, especially when inhaling,
  • Coughing up blood,
  • And a sudden fall or collapse.

How You Can Help to Prevent Blood Clots

Even though blood clots can be extremely dangerous, you can prevent blood clots from forming by:

  • Exercising regularly, 
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight,
  • Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated,
  • And avoiding sitting for long periods of time. 

These healthy habits are especially important if you or someone you know is at a higher risk for developing a blood clot. At Vivage, we encourage individuals to lead an active lifestyle and promote health and wellness through our care services. To learn more about our long-term care in Colorado and Missouri, visit our website or contact a member of the Vivage team.


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