Blood clots are gel-like clumps of blood. They are beneficial when they form in response to an injury or a cut, plugging the injured blood vessel, which stops bleeding.

Some blood clots form inside your veins without a good reason and don't dissolve naturally. These may require medical attention, especially if they are in your legs or are in more critical locations, such as your lungs and brain. A number of conditions can cause this type of blood clot.

Blood clots form when platelets (blood components) and plasma proteins thicken, forming a semisolid mass. This process may be triggered by an injury or it can sometimes occur inside blood vessels that don't have an obvious injury.

Seek emergency care if you experience:

  • Cough that produces bloody sputum
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficult or painful breathing
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Pain extending to your shoulder, arm, back or jaw
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of your face, arm or leg
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech (aphasia)
  • Sudden changes in your vision

Consult your doctor if you develop these signs or symptoms in an area on an arm or leg:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain

Self-care measures

To reduce your risk of developing blood clots, try these tips:

  • Avoid sitting for long periods. If you travel by airplane, walk the aisle periodically. For long car trips, stop and walk around frequently.
  • Move. After you've had surgery or been on bed rest, the sooner you get up and move around, the better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids when traveling. Dehydration can contribute to the development of blood clots.
  • Change your lifestyle. Lose weight, lower high blood pressure, stop smoking and exercise regularly.
June 02, 2016