Blood clots are gel-like clumps of blood. When they form in response to a cut or other injury, they stop the bleeding by plugging the injured blood vessel. These blood clots help the body heal.

But some blood clots form inside the veins without a good reason. They don't dissolve naturally. These clots may require medical attention, especially if they are in the legs, lungs or brain. A number of conditions can cause this type of blood clot.

Blood clots are made when substances in the blood thicken and form a semisolid mass. This process may be triggered by an injury. Sometimes it occurs 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 that spreads to the shoulder, arm, back or jaw.
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg.
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

Consult your health care provider if you develop these symptoms in an area on an arm or leg:

  • Swelling.
  • Change in skin color, such as an area on the leg that looks unusually red or purple.
  • Warmth.
  • Pain.

Self-care measures

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

  • Avoid sitting for long periods. If you travel by airplane, walk the aisle now and then. For long car trips, stop frequently and walk around.
  • 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 increase the risk for blood clots.
  • Change your lifestyle. Lose weight, lower high blood pressure, stop smoking and exercise regularly.
July 19, 2023