Clots are most likely to form when the flow of blood through the veins is slowed, such as when sitting in a chair for long periods of time, or when confined to bed. Those at greater risk for developing blood clots are the elderly, smokers, those who have recently had surgery to the hips or knees, pregnant women, women who use oral contraceptives or HRT, and those who are immobile due to illness, travel or surgery. Long plane flights are a well-known contributor to episodes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), due to the extended periods of immobility imposed on passengers.
The ability for blood to clot evolved as a mechanism for keeping us from bleeding to death when we receive minor injuries. People with the genetic condition hemophilia lack the substance in their blood that spurs it to clot. This can lead to death at a young age due to hemorrhage. When we first receive a cut, platelets in our blood collect at the site to form a temporary barrier. Then these platelets send out chemical signals that cause the blood’s clotting factors to replace the platelets with fibrin, which is tougher and more durable than the platelet barrier. When the bleeding is sufficiently stopped, anti-clotting proteins are then released that stop the clot from growing larger and spreading.
However, sometimes blood clots develop in an abnormal fashion or break off and travel to other parts of the body where they can cause serious medical problems, such as a stroke…
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