14b-7-anticoagulantsBlood clots are an especially dangerous and life threating complication, depending on which artery or vein in the body. For example, a blood clot can form in a cerebral artery and cause severe paralysis and even death. The formation of blood clots is related to numerous factors. These include atherosclerosis development, trauma and genetic disorders. These contribute to abnormal clotting and narrowing of the blood vessels, and thus, blockages. These blood clots thus can directly impede with blood flow to the tissues of the body and cause health complications. Treatment of blood clots must begin immediately following the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. These symptoms are again dependent on where the clot has formed in the body. In the brain, muscle numbness, facial paralysis and migraines can result, while in the heart, chest pain, shortness of breath and abnormal heart rates are often present. Clots can also form in the extremities and this is associated with swelling, redness and warmth in the area. It is imperative to monitor for these signs and symptoms as the probability of dissolving blood clots is greatly improved if treatment is begun immediately.

The treatment of blood clots involves numerous diagnostic procedures. These can include computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance images, angiographs, and ultrasounds. Your physician will decide which diagnostic procedure is best to elicit detailed images of the clot in the body. Treatment for blood clots differs depending on where the clot has formed. In general, the treatment of blood clots includes lifestyle changes, medications and surgery. Lifestyle changes are associated with decreasing the risk and size of the present clot. These include quitting smoking, exercising regularly and avoiding long periods of inactivity. Medications for blood clots are also extremely common. These include anticoagulants, antiplatelets and thrombolytics. Warfarin and heparin are the most common anticoagulants, while aspirin and tissue plasminogen activator are the most common antiplatelet and thrombolytic respectively. These medications for blood clots are not without side effects and thus, it is important to discuss them at length with your physician to avoid problematic health complications associated with the drug. Treatment of blood clots with surgery is most often used if a blood clot has formed in one of the cerebral arteries of the brain. This is due to the life-threatening situation a blood clot in the brain presents. The most common procedure is a carotid endarterectomy. This procedure helps to restore blood flow to the brain by removing plaque build up and reversing atherosclerosis development.

Formation of Blood Clots

treatment-for-small-blood-clot-in-armThe formation of blood clots is usually associated with a defensive mechanism by the body to deter severe or fatal bleeding. These clots are formed by platelets in the blood that coagulant and act as a plug for the wound. Sometimes, hyperactive or the abnormal formation of blood clots can develop. This can be a very serious health complication as blood clots can impede with blood flow to numerous areas of the body, including the brain, heart and lungs. There are numerous genetic diseases that are associated with hyperactive clotting. These individuals are especially at risk for stroke development. Also, aging, smoking, atherosclerosis, trauma, obesity, diabetes and hypertension can all contribute to the formation of blood clots. Thus, it is important to mitigate the preventable risk factors associated with the formation of blood clots to avoid serious health problems. Your doctor is the best person to aid in this.

Treatment of Blood Clots

The treatment of blood clots is dependent on where the clot formed, how large the present clot is, and the severity of symptoms. For example, the treatment of blood clots in the legs is different from the treatment for blood clots in the heart or brain. In general, lifestyle changes, medications for blood clots, and surgery are used.

Lifestyle Changes

healthy-eatingThe most common lifestyle changes recommended are directly associated with the risk factors presented. These lifestyle changes aid in decreasing the risk from suffering a blood clot in the body and are usually always recommended in the treatment of blood clots. These lifestyle changes include exercising on a daily basis, eating healthy foods (avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats, sugars), losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and avoiding long periods of inactivity. Your doctor is the best person to consult on improving lifestyle habits.

Medications

Medications for blood clots are almost always used in the treatment of blood clots. This is because they can actively work in dissolving blood clots and can prevent further clots from forming. The most common medications are anticoagulants, antiplatelets, and thrombolytics.

  • Anticoagulants are extremely common in the treatment of blood clots. They are commonly named “blood thinners”. Anticoagulants main function is to deter blood clots and help prevent the current blood clot from increasing in size. Warfarin and Xarelto are the common anticoagulants used today.
  • Warfarin is one of the most common medications for blood clots used today. It actively deters blood clot formation by impeding with Vitamin K function. Vitamin K plays an integral role in the formation of blood clots and thus, its inability to function can greatly impact the development of blood clots. Warfarin is extremely common in the treatment for blood clots in the legs and heart. Warfarin is not without side effects and should not be taken if you are pregnant, suffer from hypertension, or have any open wounds. Common side effects of warfarin are bleeding, hair loss, and skin rash It is best to consult with your doctor on the side effects of warfarin to determine if it is the right medication for the treatment of blood clots.
  • Xarelto is another common medication used in the treatment of blood clots. Xarelto actively prevents factor Xa from functioning in the blood. Factor Xa plays a crucial role in the development of blood clots and thus, without proper functioning of factor Xa, the formation of blood clots is greatly limited. Xarelto is commonly used in the treatment for blood clots in the heart.
  • Antiplatelets are also commonly used in the treatment of blood clots. Most often, they are used as treatment for blood clots in the heart and can greatly decrease the likelihood of suffering from heart complications and strokes. The most common antiplatelet medication is aspirin. As the name implies, antiplatelet medications work on platelets in the blood stream. Aspirin is directly involved in decreases the ability of one platelet to stick to another and thus, impedes with the coagulation process. Antiplatelet medications are commonly recommended in those suffering from a current cardiovascular medication and are used under periods of prolonged physical activity such as hospital stays or plane flights. There are relatively small side effects associated with Aspirin and thus, it is very useful in the treatment of blood clots.
  • Thrombolytic medications are commonly recognized as the gold standard for treatment of blood clots today. The most common form of thrombolytic medication is tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. Tissue plasminogen activator works to seek out blood clots and actively dissolve them to restore blood flow to the tissues of the body. Tissue plasminogen activator must be administered immediately following the onset of symptoms of a blood clot. This is due to the fact that tPA’s efficacy greatly declines if it is not administered within three to four hours of blood clot formation. Thrombolytic medications are absolutely imperative in the treatment for blood clots in heart chambers. This is because if blood flow is impeded in the heart for too long, permanent damage or death may result. Tissue plasminogen activator has the potential to stop permanent damage from occurring and thus, is one of the most widely used medications in the treatment of blood clots today.

Compression Socks

Compression socks are commonly used in the treatment for blood clots in the legs. They pose no risk to the patient and thus, are recommended by physicians. Compression socks should not be used as the method of treatment for blood clots in the legs. This is because they only help to encourage blood flow, rather than actively seek to treat the current blood clot present. It is important to speak with your doctor on the use of compression socks.

Surgery

blood-clot-retriever-lgSurgery is not common in the treatment of blood clots. It is only used in a situation becomes life threatening and needs immediate treatment. The most common time surgery is needed is if a blood clots forms in the brain or lungs. This can pose a serious and immediate fatal situation and must be alleviated immediately. Carotid endarerectomy is a common surgical procedure used to restore blood flow to the brain. Surgeons enter the carotid artery and remove plaque build up, which can reverse atherosclerosis development. Thus, this greatly improves blood flow to the brain and can prevent strokes from occurring in the future.

It is extremely important to discuss with your doctor on the treatment methods for blood clots. He or she can provide information on the positives and negatives of each method for treatment of blood clots.