A blood clot, or thrombus, forms when a blood vessel becomes damaged and sticky blood cells bond together to prevent bleeding. This is a natural response and we all develop clots from time to time, when we cut ourselves or fall and get bruised. But when blood clots form in arteries and block blood flow to tissues and organs there can be serious damage to the surrounding area. When blood clots break away from the area in which they have formed, this is called an embolus, and this kind of blood clot can create other more dangerous issues, like strokes and heart attacks.
One cause of blood clots is when arteries narrow as their walls thicken and harden, (also known as hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis), and blood flow is blocked. These arteries are prone to injuries and when they tear, blood clots may form, cutting off oxygen to the brain and heart.
Women who take oral contraceptives run the risk of developing blood clots and the risk is much higher if smoking is involved.
An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can cause blood to pool in one of the heart’s chambers, which may then become a clot and there is a possibility this embolus will travel to the brain.
A family history of thrombosis may also mean a proclivity to forming blood clots.
And of course, lack of mobility due to injury, or a lack of exercise can cause a blood clot. These may form in the legs and are known as deep venous thrombosis, or DVT.
There are several ways to prevent a blood clot from forming. Get enough exercise and don’t smoke, or quit if you already do. Taking supplements like L-Arginine, may also help to prevent clots from forming. Know your family’s medical history and eat a heart-healthy diet, keeping your cholesterol under control. Live a healthy lifestyle and you will keep your risk of developing blood clots down considerably.