Probably, many have heard sad stories about someone's sudden death due to a loose blood clot. Almost everyone understands that a “severed blood clot” is something life-threatening, but at the same time, not everyone is aware of what a blood clot is, when it is formed, and why it comes off in general. So now let's talk about blood clots and their role in the body.
What are blood clots
Human blood is a multicomponent substance. It consists of plasma and different types of cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The first is the so-called red blood cells, which are assigned the role of transporting oxygen throughout the body. White blood cells are white blood cells. Their task is to protect the body from pathogens that enter the blood. And platelets, due to their specific role, are called repair cells. They are involved in the formation of blood clots.
Without exaggeration, the ability of the circulatory system to form clots is vital. Thrombus formation is a kind of protective reaction of the body. If it were not for blood clots, then even the slightest injury would lead to complete blood loss and, consequently, death.
The best example of what happens to the body when platelets do not perform their “repair” function is hemophilia. For people with this disease, even a small scratch can result in fatal bleeding.
When damage occurs on the body of a healthy person, accompanied by hemorrhage, platelets are immediately activated and directed to the wound. Blood repairing cells stick together and form a “latka” clot with which they clog the damaged vessel. To protect more reliable, platelets are associated with a protein substance - fibrin. Together they create an obstruction in the "breakthrough" area. In this way, the body protects itself against blood loss.
After the injury site heals, the blood clot resolves without affecting the blood density. But if something in this mechanism fails, the process of formation and resorption of blood clots is disturbed.
When blood clots are not treated, but maimed
Lack of platelets leads to impaired blood clotting and improper healing of wounds. If these blood cells are too much and they are glued unnecessarily, there is a risk of thrombosis — vascular occlusion. In this case, blood circulation is disturbed, due to which some parts of the body receive less oxygen and nutrients. The World Health Organization estimated that about a quarter of the world's population has a tendency to accumulate blood clots in vessels. And this can happen for different reasons.
One of the most common causes leading to the development of thrombosis are vessels with damaged walls. They are perceived by the body as a possible source of danger, therefore, platelets are grouped and sent to "patch" the walls of blood vessels, which ultimately does more harm than good. Vascular walls are damaged, as a rule, due to inflammatory processes - phlebitis (in veins) or arteritis (in arteries). Therefore, it is important for people with such disorders to regularly check the condition of the blood vessels and blood density.
Another common cause of clot accumulation is impaired blood flow. With such a pathology, in places of expansion or contraction of the vessel, peculiar “twists” can form, where blood clots accumulate.
There is another factor contributing to the development of thrombosis - genetic. Some hereditary diseases affect the viscosity of the blood, making the substance in the vessels more dense. In addition, some medications, as well as smoking, can affect blood density. During pregnancy, if the blood vessels clog the placenta, there is a serious risk to the fetus.
What is a "broken blood clot"
We have already figured out what platelets are and what is the mechanism for the formation of blood clots. It's time to understand what the expression "broke a blood clot."
Glued platelets can form blood clots in arteries and / or veins. If a blood clot forms in the artery, this is a potential risk of ischemia. This is the death of living tissue due to insufficient blood supply. As long as a blood clot is held on the wall of the vessel without blocking the path of blood, it does not constitute a threat to life. But everything changes dramatically as soon as a clot of glued platelets breaks away from the vessel wall and enters the organ with the bloodstream.
If a detached thrombus falls into the heart, a myocardial infarction occurs. A heart attack can happen in any organ that receives blood from an artery.
Possible heart attack of the kidneys, spleen, or even the eyes. If a blood clot enters the brain, they talk about a stroke. And if in the lungs, a pulmonary embolus occurs. In such cases it is very important to dissolve the clot as soon as possible, otherwise death is inevitable. To save the life of a patient with a blood clot in the heart, it is necessary to take measures within an hour and a half. When stroke is decisive, the first 3-3.5 hours after the incident.
When blood clots come off more often
There are many conditions in which the risk of formation and closure of a blood clot increases several times. One of them is atherosclerosis.
People suffering from this disease are in the zone of increased risk of heart attack, stroke and thrombosis of the lower extremities, which is complicated by gangrene. The main factor leading to such complications is atherosclerotic plaques that accumulate on the walls of blood vessels.
Sometimes it happens that an atherosclerotic plaque ruptures, releasing the lipids it contains. Platelets perceive these particles as something similar to a wound and stick to them. This is how large blood clots form, which, coming off, constitute a serious danger to life. To prevent disastrous consequences, aspirin is usually prescribed to patients with atherosclerosis, which prevents the adhesion of platelets and, consequently, the formation of blood clots.
Atrial fibrillation is a fairly common cardiovascular disease, which also increases the risk of becoming a victim of a severed blood clot. In atrial fibrillation, an irregular contraction of the ventricles of the heart is observed, which can cause blood to stagnate in the atrium and blood clots form over time. Statistics indicate that the presence of atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke by almost 6 times. Therefore, people with such cardiac disorders are prescribed anticoagulant drugs (slow blood clotting). The intake of anticoagulants prevents the formation of protein filaments (fibrin), which, in fact, bind the platelets into huge blood clots.
People leading a sedentary lifestyle may also be at risk of thrombus formation.
The fact is that due to low motor activity, when sitting or when you have to stand in one place every day for a long time, there is stagnation of blood in the veins. A similar effect is caused by varicose veins. In both cases, the risk of a blood clot increases. If the clot breaks away from the vein, it will be carried by the bloodstream directly into the lungs, which, as already mentioned, causes pulmonary embolism. You can also prevent unwanted effects by taking anticoagulants.
How to protect yourself from dangerous blood clots
If a person is prone to thrombosis, he is usually prescribed blood-thinning drugs, such as heparin. But with the intake of such medications, one must be extremely careful and in no case should one exceed the dosage in order not to provoke bleeding. Therefore, before prescribing drug therapy, the patient is always offered to pass a series of tests to determine the parameters of blood clotting.
The simplest tests are blood tests for the accumulation of the amino acid homocysteine in it. If it is more than normal, then the person is prone to thrombosis. Also, laboratory blood tests can determine the presence of the antiphospholipid syndrome, a pathogenic condition in which blood clots form at once in all vessels of the body. In addition, you can make a hemostasiogram or coagulogram to determine blood density. These tests are usually prescribed to women in a position or planning a pregnancy. If there is a suspicion that the patient has hereditary diseases affecting the rate of blood coagulation, he is usually prescribed special genetic tests.
But even if the propensity or presence of thrombosis was confirmed laboratory, the treatment program is determined individually for each patient. After all, blockage of arteries and veins requires different treatment programs. Also, according to different methods dissolve blood clots formed on the background of various diseases.
Thrombosis, like all diseases, is better to prevent than to cure its effects. Therefore, doctors advise all people over 35 every two years to undergo a vascular scan to determine whether they have blood clots.
Platelets are our faithful helpers. It would not be them, any damage to the skin would be a mortal danger to humans. But sometimes they turn into enemies. If you belong to a group of people who are prone to increased blood clots, remember that prevention is better than treatment, and timely diagnosis helps prevent most serious health problems.