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Blood clotting is a necessary process that prevents excessive bleeding when you're injured or cut. But the problem is when a blood clot happens elsewhere in your body, particularly in your blood vessels. It can put you in a life-threatening situation. Blood clots in veins or arteries can increase your risk of having serious medical problems such as pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs), heart attack, and stroke. An immobile blood clot is generally harmless, but if it breaks free and travels to your heart, brain and lungs, it can prevent blood flow to the organs.
What causes a blood clot form in the first place? Blood clots are clumps of blood that are formed when certain parts of your blood thicken and changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state. Several factors and conditions can trigger the formation of troublesome blood clots. These include:
Blood clots can form in veins (venous clot) or arteries (arterial clot). An arterial clot can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Deep vein thrombosis is the most serious type of venous clot and it happens most commonly in one of your legs. Such types of clots can also happen in your arms, pelvis, lungs, or even your brain. Pulmonary embolism is another type of venous clot that affects the lungs.
You should seek immediate medical help if you think you might have a blood clot. Here are some early signs and symptoms to watch out for:
A blood clot occurs most commonly in the lower leg. A blood clot in the leg or arm can cause symptoms like swelling, pain, a warm sensation, redness and tenderness in the affected area.
The heart is a less common location for a blood clot, but if it happens it can lead to a heart attack. If you have a blood clot in the heart, your may feel chest pain or heaviness. Other potential symptoms include lightheadedness and shortness of breath.
When a blood clot travels to your lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). This condition can also leave you feeling short of breath. Chest pain, palpitations, or rapid heart rate, breathing problems, and coughing up blood are other possible symptoms of PE.
If you have a blood clot somewhere in your abdomen, you may experience severe abdominal pain and swelling. A stomach virus or food poisoning may also cause similar symptoms.
Ischaemic strokes are the most common type of stroke and they happen when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. A blood clot in your brain may cause a sudden and severe headache, along with some other symptoms, including weakness in your face, arms, or legs, speech and vision difficulties and dizziness.
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