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6 Main Risk Factors for Blood Clots You Need to Know

The circulatory system is an essential part of our bodies that provides oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to every cell as well as removes waste products such as carbon dioxide. It keeps us alive and maintains cellular health. However, it can be affected by health issues such as peripheral artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysms, atherosclerosis, and deep vein thrombosis.  

Today, we will talk about deep vein thrombosis – a serious health condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein that’s located deep inside the body. In some cases, those blood clots can dissolve without causing any damage, but if not dissolved, a clot can break off, travel to any body part, including your lungs, and block blood flow. The blockage of an artery in the lungs is called pulmonary embolism. This condition provokes organ damage and can lead to death.    

There are lots of things that can lead to blood clots. While some of them are non-preventable, others are modifiable. It means you can take a few steps to lower your risk of encountering blood clots. Knowing your risk factors can help you start the treatment timely. Let’s take a look at them:  

1. Having bleeding disorders 

Certain bleeding disorders such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and hemophilia, can severely reduce the ability of the blood to clot. However, there are bleeding disorders that can lead to increased blood clotting. Their symptoms include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tenderness, and chest pain.    

2. Sitting for a long time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sitting for a long time regularly can increase the risk of blood clots. The CDC adds that walking around every two to three hours can reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. 

If you have other risk factors for deep vein thrombosis, like smoking, pregnancy, excessive weight, or taking birth control pills, consider talking to your health care provider about the ways to reduce your risk.  

3. Having extra weight or being obese

Obesity is a potentially dangerous condition that can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder disease, coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis, high levels of triglycerides, etc. Carrying extra weight can put too much pressure on legs and increase the pressure in leg veins. Obesity carries many serious risks, that’s why it’s important to start treatment in time. If your obesity is severe, you might need to start looking for ways to lose weight.  

4. Being pregnant

Pregnancy can also raise the risk of blood clots because of hormonal changes that happen in pregnant women. Increased estrogen levels can make blood form more clots. 

5. Taking combined hormonal birth control pills 

Since hormonal birth control pills contain estrogen that helps prevent pregnancy, using this method of contraception can increase the risk of blood clots. Scientists still don’t fully understand the mechanism behind this, but it’s known that estrogen raises the levels of some clotting factors in the blood.   

A 2015 study in BMJ that looked at over 50,000 women reveals that the chances of developing a blood clot while not taking hormonal birth control pills are about 0.04 percent. The chances rise up to 0.06-0.18 percent when taking the pills.

6. Being older than 60

According to the Mayo Clinic, being older than 60 is one of the main risk factors for deep vein thrombosis. Aging increases the risk of developing many other potentially dangerous conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, cancer, etc. Although experts don’t fully understand why aging raises the chances of deep vein thrombosis, it’s known that the blood has more potential to coagulate as you get older.  

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Written by Amelia Grant

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