Blood clotting is key to survival. It is what allows, after an injury, illness or surgery, our body can stop the bleeding. Even in cases that do not seem risky, such as a small wound, they can become a medical emergency if clotting is not correct.
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In the event of an injury, the body becomes alert and, with normal clotting, a series of reactions are set in motion that work as a team to contain the blood that leaves the damaged veins and arteries.
Some people are more vulnerable than others to blood clots. If these do not dissolve, or if someone tends to develop clots Even when there has been no injury, we can speak of thrombophilia, a term that encompasses a series of alterations that increase the propensity for thrombi, clots or plugs to form in our circulatory system.
Why Thrombophilia Can Be Dangerous
Some people are already born with it (hereditary thrombophilia) and others develop it throughout their lives (acquired thrombophilia). Whatever the case, this condition comes in many forms and can affect the sufferer in different ways: from never having a clotting problem to experiencing a potentially dangerous clot.
The risk of dangerous blood clots is mostly in the lower limbs, particularly the veins on the back of the leg. But they can also appear in the arteries.
People with thrombophilia may be at increased risk of developing:
Deep vein thrombosis (TPV): it is when the clot forms inside the deep veins of the leg. Symptoms such as swelling and tenderness, pain that intensifies when the foot bends upward, heat in the affected area, and red skin often appear. Typically all of these symptoms appear on the back of the leg, below the knee.
Pulmonary embolism– Occurs when the blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs. Symptoms often include chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and dizziness, dry cough, upper back pain, and fainting. A pulmonary embolism requires urgent medical attention.
Who is affected by thrombophilia
Most thrombophilias they are genetic, which means they are inherited from one or both parents. But there are also risk factors for blood clots that are not genetic, such as:
- prolonged immobilization (economy class syndrome, for example)
- previous surgery
- hormone replacement therapy
- taking oral contraceptives
- pregnancy (this increases clotting factors in the blood, leading to pregnancy problems or miscarriages)
- certain genetic mutations
In most cases, the formation of a thrombus in the leg is easy to recognize (Deep venous thrombosis) and, as we have already indicated, it is usually accompanied by general discomfort, inflammation, redness and pain in the area and heat when palpated. But there are others that can go unnoticed.
It is difficult to establish what the prevalence of thrombophilia is since symptoms do not usually appear unless a blood clot develops. It is calculated that, in the general population, incidence venous thromboembolism is 1 per 1,000 people per year.
It is possible, however, that someone who has it does not know. A blood test It allows to identify the condition, but not always to determine the cause. In the event that thrombophilia is inherited, genetic testing can identify family members with the same condition.
How is thrombophilia treated
Treatment for thrombophilia depends on where it is located, the severity, and potential complications. The goal is to relieve symptoms and prevent more clots from developing. It is usually treated with:
Anticoagulant medications that act on the clotting system, decrease a person’s ability to form a clot, like aspirin. These drugs are aimed at making the clot and the blood flow more fluid, that is, to dissolve the clot.
They can be given only for a short period of time, when the risk of thrombosis is higher, or for a long time. Everything will depend on the clinical circumstances.
Vascular surgery techniques or catheterization whose objective is to eliminate the thrombus whenever possible due to its size and where it is located.
Can the risk of thrombophilia be reduced?
Various settings in Lifestyle can reduce the risk of thrombophilia:
- To drink lots of liquids, especially water, to avoid dehydration.
- Follow one balanced diet.
- Perform physical exercise to not only keep your blood moving and circulation but also have a healthy weight and healthy lung function.
- Give up smoking. Tobacco constricts the blood vessels and, combined with a diet rich in fat, increases the risk of developing plaques on the walls of the vessels.
It is also known that prolonged periods of immobility, such as long haul flights or being sedentary (spending many hours on the sofa or desk in front of the computer) increases the chances of a blood clot forming.
Any long trip multiply the risk two or three times of venous thrombosis (what is known as economy class syndrome), especially in trips of 8-10 hours duration, according to the Spanish Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis (SETH).
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