No matter who you are or where you're from, no matter what language you speak or what food you eat, one thing is for certain - we all bleed the same. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it's true. The same could be said for just about any part of our bodies, but blood has always been an important symbol of life. We are born bloody, and a loss of too much blood can result in our deaths.
Our blood is also used by medical science to diagnose a variety of health issues, and problems with your bloodstream and/or its circulation can potentially be just as life-threatening as being the victim of a medieval swordfight. One of the more common problems that people have with their blood is the formation of blood clots. Annually, nearly 900,000 people in the United States will develop a blood clot. While most of them aren't usually serious and can be treated, blood clots still have the potential to be deadly.
Not all blood clots are bad for you, however. Our blood has certain substances (platelets) in it which react to the rupturing of a blood vessel (see diagram below). They collect in the spot of the injury and release fibrin polymers that trap nearby blood cells to create an impenetrable barrier. This prevents excess blood loss. Once the tissue heals, this barrier is naturally dissolved by the body.
Unfortunately, blood can sometimes clot inside the blood vessel, causing blockages. The buildup of cholesterol plaque is a notorious culprit for these kinds of blockages. If/when the plaque bursts, it releases substances that trigger the clotting mechanism, resulting in a blocked blood vessel.
The formation of these kinds of blood clots often happens in the legs, particularly the calf area. This is sometimes known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms include a persistent pain in one spot (usually after some activity), swelling, redness, warmth in that area, and/or visible blood vessels.
Due to their location, these symptoms are often just seen as being a stiff leg or muscle cramp. Unfortunately, if left unattended, the clot could eventually move its way upwards, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism if it reaches the lungs.
Doctors have found that there are various factors that can put one at higher risk for developing blood clots. Not surprisingly, old age is a factor, with people over 60 having a higher risk than others.
Weight is also an issue. Excess body fat can put extra pressure on the blood vessels. Besides, most dietary choices that lead to weight gain are all loaded with bad cholesterol.
Smoking kills in more ways than one. Smokers were found to have higher risks of developing blood clots, so do yourself a favor and kick the habit!
Sedentary lifestyles, involving long periods of sitting, are also a major hazard - and not just for the risk of blood clots. Sitting all day is terrible for you in so many ways.
Thankfully, if your symptoms are diagnosed properly, there are treatment options. There are medicines which help thin the blood and dissolve clots, as well as surgeries and other procedures that can help alleviate the issue.
As always, however, the best thing you can do is live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and eat right, and your whole body will thank you by (hopefully) never getting these problems in the first place. Prevention is always better than a cure.
It also helps to get your blood pressure checked at least twice a year by a medical professional!
To learn more about blood clots, watch the video below:
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