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Causes of Blood Clots

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Causes of Blood Clots

Any condition that damages the inner lining of a blood vessel causes stagnation of blood or hypercoagulable states can lead to the formation of an abnormal blood clot.

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Clots can form in arteries, in veins as well as in the heart.

  • Excessive cholesterol in the blood gets deposited in the walls of the arteries resulting in the formation of a plaque and a condition called atherosclerosis. This could result in narrowing of the blood vessel lumen and obstruction to the flow of blood. Sometimes, the plaque ruptures and a clot forms over it. The clot can occlude the blood flow, resulting in stroke, angina, heart attack, peripheral arterial disease or bloody diarrhea.
Blood Clots Atherosclerosis
  • When a person becomes immobilized, the blood tends to stagnate in the veins and form small clots. These small clots gradually grow and block the vein either partially or completely.
  • Clots can also form in the heart. In conditions where the heart beats irregularly like atrial fibrillation, blood stagnates in the heart and can result in the formation of a clot.

Conditions that may predispose to the development of blood clots include:

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  • Genetic causes: Genetic problems can affect the clotting factors and can result in hypercoagulable states. E.g. Factor V Leiden
Blood Clots DNA
  • Acquired Causes: Other causes that could result in the formation of abnormal blood clots include:
    • Trauma or surgery resulting in prolonged immobilization
    • Long airplane travel
    • Central venous catheter placement
    • Obesity
Blood Clots Obesity
    • Cancer
    • Pregnancy
    • Usage of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
    • Disease conditions like atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and previous history of pulmonary embolism
    • Autoimmune disorders like antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
    • Kidney diseases like nephrotic syndrome
    • HIV / AIDS
Blood Clots Aids
    • Medications used for the treatment of cancer such as tamoxifen, thalidomide, lenalidomide and bevacizumab
  • Other Risk factors include age, family history, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle.

References:

  1. Treatment of Blood Clots - (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/20/e138.full)
  2. Blood Clots and Strokes: A Guide for Parents and Little Folks - By Maureen Andrew, Maureen Andrew, MD.
  3. Blood Clotting Disorders (Hypercoagulable States) - (http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/vascular/hypercoagstate.aspx)

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