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What's it like: To have blood clots

Blood clotting is a normal process that the body uses to seal small cuts on blood vessel walls to stop bleeding. But sometimes a blood clot can build up in an artery or vein and result in a life-threatening situation.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: August 3, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 3, 2014

What is a blood clot?

Blood clotting is a normal process that the body uses to seal small cuts on blood vessel walls to stop bleeding.

However, sometimes a blood clot, made of near-solid masses of blood, can build up in an artery or vein. Clots can prevent blood from flowing, either toward your heart or another region of the body, such as your legs or brain. They can develop anywhere in the body and among any age group, although the risk of developing blood clots increases with age.

Why does a person develop a blood clot?

You could develop a blood clot when you are hypercoagulable, which means your body is in a state with a tendency of forming clots.

There are several reasons why you might develop a blood clot, or be in a hypercoagulable state. A blood clot might develop when a person has a large amount of inflammation. Clots can also develop because you have a family history or are genetically predisposed. Also, people with cancer, a recent surgery or chronic conditions, such as liver disease, can be at an increased risk for developing blood clots. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for developing blood clots, as well.

You might also develop blood clots if you’re on long-term bed rest or if you’re sitting for long periods of time, such as when flying or driving long distances.

What are the symptoms of a blood clot?

Symptoms will vary, depending on where a blood clot develops in the body. In certain instances, a serious blood clot can lead to loss of limb, a stroke or intestinal problems, depending on where the clot is.

For example, if you lose blood flow to your legs, your nerves could begin to die, which might cause your leg to hurt. Also, your skin might be warm or have a blue or red tint to it. Clots that develop in larger veins are called deep-vein thrombosis.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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