Simply put, a blood clot is what keeps you from continuing to bleed – and lose blood – if you happen to suffer a cut by providing a buffer between the blood vessels and the outside world. However, clots can also be formed inside of the body, and these have the potential to cause serious medical conditions.
When your blood vessels are injured, platelets, which are small fragments of cells, rush to the site and quickly stick to the lining of the injured area and form a platform for the blood to coagulate. The plasma, the liquid part of the blood, contributes to this process, which results in the formation of a blood clot over the injured area.
At this point, anti-clotting enzymes work together to ensure that the clot does not grow any further once it has reached the size necessary to do its job. As the damaged area heals, the blood clot gradually degrades and is reabsorbed back into the body, or it may fall off if it is on the skin.
Clots that are formed on the inside of blood vessels usually dissolve naturally. However, sometimes they do not, and it is a serious situation when this happens.
A clot that has formed in a vein can restrict how much blood is flowing to the heart and cause the portion of the vein that is located behind the clot to swell. A heart attack results when a coronary artery, a blood vessel that provides the heart with a steady supply of blood, is blocked by a blood clot. This can injure part of the heart and even be fatal in some situations.
Similarly, a stroke oftentimes occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that is providing the brain with the blood that it needs to work properly, while pulmonary embolism results when a clot cuts off the flow of blood to the lungs.
There are several things that you can do to help prevent these types of blood clots from forming. Simply put, staying active will help tremendously. This is especially true if you are taking a long trip on an airplane or a bus. In these situations, make sure to move around as much as you can. Even if you have to sit for long periods of time, stretch out your legs and move them around as much as possible.
Aspirin may also help prevent clots from forming in your blood vessels.