Blood clotting is a natural, healthy process. It prevents you from bleeding excessively. But when it occurs too much, and in certain areas of your body, it can have sometimes dire consequences. The worst outcome of a blood clot is for it to spread to the blood vessels feeding your heart and lungs. The symptoms of this include chest pain and upper body discomfort in four areas.
Sometimes blood clots are not a medical emergency, such as when you have a clot near the surface of the skin
But in other instances, it’s a medical emergency – such as if you develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT, which strikes one in 20 over the course of a lifetime, is when you have a blood clot in a vein deep within your body. It normally starts in your legs, but if the clot breaks off and spreads to your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism.
A blood clot in your lung stops the blood flow to your lungs. This can quickly become life-threatening as your organ needs blood to continue operating.
Blood clots in your heart’s main artery are also a serious medical emergency, as they will cause a heart attack.
Like every other organ, your heart needs blood to survive. When the blood flow is blocked, it will become damaged and eventually die if left untreated.
Both pulmonary embolisms have similar symptoms.
The American Heart Association explains: “A blood clot in the heart or lungs could include symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and upper body discomfort in the arms, back, neck, or jaw, suggesting a heart attack or pulmonary embolism (PE).”
The health body also explains that blood clots are connected to the onset of stroke. It adds: “A blood clot in the brain could cause headaches, speech changes, paralysis (an inability to move), dizziness, and trouble speaking or understanding speech, suggesting a possible stroke.”
How to prevent clots in your arteries and veins
Most cases of a blood clot in your arteries are caused by atherosclerosis, according to NHS Inform.
Atherosclerosis is when fatty deposits build up on the walls of your arteries, making your vessels harder and narrower.
Hard vessels are problematic because your blood vessels naturally like to dilate, which allows blood to pass through them. Stiff blood vessels prevent this from happening.
One of the best ways to prevent atherosclerosis and thus a blood clot in your artery is to bring down the amount of LDL “bad” cholesterol in your blood.
You can do this by eating fewer meat pies, lard, hard cheese, and other foods containing high levels of saturated fats.
Saturated fats are thought to stop your body from moving cholesterol out of your blood by blocking the receptors which allow this to happen.
Quitting smoking can also help to prevent an artery blood clot because nicotine is linked can contribute to the hardening of your blood vessel walls.
The advice for preventing a venous blood clot is quite similar. Although, there is a lot of emphasis on making sure that you move your legs, especially if you’re on a long-haul plane flight.
Mayo Clinic says: “If you’ve had surgery or have been on bed rest, try to move as soon as possible. Don’t cross your legs while sitting. Doing so can block blood flow.
“When travelling, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. When on a plane, stand or walk occasionally.
“If you’re travelling by car, stop every hour or so and walk around. If you can’t walk, do lower leg exercises. Raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the floor. Then raise your toes while keeping your heels on the floor.”
The health body also recommends quitting smoking and managing your weight. “Regular exercise lowers the risk of blood clots,” it adds.