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A blood clot is a clump of blood that forms in a blood vessel, such as a vein or an artery. If a clot gets stuck in a blood vessel, it can cause serious problems like a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism.
A DVT is a blood clot in certain veins of the legs, pelvis, or arms. It most often occurs in the legs. Blood clots in these veins need to be treated, because they can get bigger, break loose, and travel through the bloodstream to the heart and then to the lungs. This causes a pulmonary embolism.
A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. Blood clots in the deep veins of the leg are the most common cause of a pulmonary embolism. In many cases, the clots are small. They may damage the lung. But if the clot is large and stops blood flow to the lung, it can be life-threatening.
Some of the things that can increase your risk for a blood clot include:
When blood doesn't flow normally, clots are more likely to develop. Reduced blood flow may result from long-term bedrest, such as after a surgery, injury, or serious illness. Or it may result from sitting for a long time, especially when travelling long distances.
Some people have blood that clots too easily or too quickly. Things that may cause increased clotting include:
Blood is more likely to clot in veins and arteries shortly after they are injured. Injury can be caused by a recent medical procedure or surgery that involved your legs, hips, belly, or brain. Or it can be caused by an injury, such as a broken hip.
If you already have a risk of blood clots, talk to your doctor before taking a long trip. Your doctor may want you to wear compression stockings or take blood-thinning medicine.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
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Current as of: December 19, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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