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Blood Clots (cont.)

How do you get blood clots?

Blood is supposed to clot to help repair a blood vessel that is injured. Clots or thrombi become a problem when they form inappropriately. There are a variety of illnesses and risk factors that can lead to blood clot formation.

Blood clots in the heart

Atrial fibrillation describes a heart rhythm disorder in which the upper chamber of the heart does not beat in a coordinated fashion. Instead of having a single electrical impulse that allows the atrium to contract, hundreds of electrical impulses are generated, and the atrium jiggles like a bowl of Jell-O. This may cause small blood clots to form along the lining of the atrium. The potential exists for these clots to break away and embolize to other parts of the body, causing diseases such as stroke or ischemic bowel (loss of blood supply to part of the intestine).

Blood clots in veins

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the term used to describe clots that form in the veins of the arms, legs, or major veins in the pelvis. Risk factors for DVT include:

Immobility may include recent surgery or hospitalization. This is especially a concern when surgery on a leg is involved or the extremity may be immobilized in a cast or splint. It also includes patients who undergo hip and knee replacement. Muscle movement in the extremity may be decreased, and this lack of motion increases the risk of blood clot formation. Prolonged airplane and automobile trips similarly minimize movement. Blood tends to pool by gravity in the lowest parts of the body. Without standing and walking at regular intervals, blood is not returned easily back to the heart by muscle contraction, and blood clots may form.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/13/2016

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