Blood Clots

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideDeep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

How can blood clots be prevented?

Prevention is key in thrombosis or clot formation.

Arterial thrombosis

  • For arterial thrombosis, the most likely precipitating event is a plaque rupture with clot formation in the artery.
  • Minimizing the risk of vascular disease requires life-long attention to the risk factors that lead to plaque buildup and "hardening" of the arteries.
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol control, diabetes management, and refraining from smoking all minimize the risk of arterial disease.
  • Although family history is an important risk factor, one needs to be even more vigilant about the other risk factors if there is a family history of early heart attack or stroke.

Deep vein thrombosis

The main risk factor for deep vein thrombosis risks is immobilization. It is important to move around routinely so that blood can circulate in the venous system. On long trips, it is recommended to get out of the car every couple of hours and in an airplane routinely get up and stretch.

Physicians and nurses work hard at getting people moving after surgery or while in the hospital for medical conditions. The low molecular weight heparin known as enoxaparin (Lovenox) can also be used in low doses to prevent clot formation. Patients are often given tight stockings to promote blood return from the legs and prevent pooling of blood.

In patients who have had hip or knee replacement, anticoagulation with a NOAC may be appropriate.

In patients with atrial fibrillation, anticoagulation may be appropriate depending upon the patient's underlying condition, the clinical situation, and the risk factors for stroke. Using the CHA2DS2-VASc scoring system, the risk for stroke in atrial fibrillation may be calculated and discussed with the patient. This system takes various factors into account to determine the patient's risk:

  • Age in years
  • Sex
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) history
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) history
  • Stroke/TIA/ blood clot history
  • Vascular disease history
  • Diabetes

Anticoagulation with a NOAC or warfarin may be appropriate. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/27/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines. Chest. 2012;141(2_suppl):

Dzsheka MS, et al. Stroke and bleeding risk in atrial fibrillation. Clin Cardiol.2014, Oct, 37(10)

Medscape. Deep Vein Thrombosis and Thrombophlebitis.

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

IMAGES:

1. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

2. Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

3. iStock

4. Banana Stock / Getty Images

5. iStock, Bigstock

6. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

7. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

8. iStock

9. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

10. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

11. Hero Images / Getty Images

12. Bruce Blause

13. iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Blood Clots - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with blood clots.

    Post View 73 Comments
  • Blood Clots - Causes

    What was the cause of your blood clot?

    Post View 57 Comments
  • Blood Clots - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you have before you were diagnosed with a blood clot?

    Post View 10 Comments
  • Blood Clots - In Leg

    What were the complications of your blood clot?

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors