Friday, May 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM
We’ve all heard of blood clots. As a matter of fact, every time we get something like a paper cut or scratch, our blood is clotting. So what exactly is happening in the body when blood clots form?
Blood is constantly in motion throughout our body and there are many components that make up blood including, red and white blood cells, plasma and platelets. Platelets are cells that, when combined with certain fibers in our blood, act as a plug to stop the bleeding of broken vessel walls. This balance of bleeding and clotting is referred to as hemostasis and it’s the normal way the body responds to an injury. This is considered ‘good’ blood clotting, but there’s also ‘bad’ blood clotting.
Abnormalities in hemostasis can mean problems with excessive bleeding or clotting. So if the number of platelets is too low, excessive bleeding can occur. Conversely, if the number of platelets is too high, blood clots can form, which may obstruct blood vessels and result in severe medical problems such as a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism (clotting in the lungs). Blood clots can happen within the arteries, where oxygenated blood is carried from the heart to different organs and cells in the body, or within the veins, where blood is returned from those areas back to the heart.
One way this ‘bad’ blood clotting can manifest itself is through a disorder called Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. DVT’s can occur in both the veins and arteries; however they happen more commonly within the veins. Blood clotting in the arteries normally brings about serious medical events like a heart attack or stroke; likewise, clotting in the veins or a DVT can lead to a serious health condition called Pulmonary Embolism, blood clotting in the lungs. In fact, 60,000 to 100,000 Americans die every year from DVT’s that lead to a Pulmonary Embolism.
ideastream’s Lauren Payden sat down with two experts on this topic of Deep Vein Thrombosis to find out why it can be so severe, what the risk factors are and what you can do to avoid it. Click on the video clip below to see what they had to say.