10 Things That Raise the Risk of Blood Clots
A number of contributing factors can lead to increased risk of developing blood clots. Awareness of them can increase your ability to take proactive action. Be aware of 10 things that raise the risk of blood clots. Some of these risks are medical in nature while others are simply caused by lifestyle.
10 Things that Raise the Risk of Blood Clots
#1: Smoking – Nicotine is just one of the ingredients in a cigarette that has the potential to damage blood vessel linings, increasing the risk of blood clot formation. Clotting factors are triggered in the blood anytime an injury occurs to those vessel linings. Smoking has also been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup.
#2: Obesity – Reduced or lack of mobility caused by obesity can contribute to blood stagnation in the veins, increasing the risk of a blood clot (embolus) forming, most especially in the deeper veins of the legs (a thrombosis). In addition, obesity has the potential to alter chemicals in the blood that contribute to inflammation, increasing the risk of clotting.
#3: Contraceptives – Oral birth control drugs have long been known to increase the risk of blood clots due to artificial hormones found in them. While the risk isn’t high, it’s always advised to consult with your gynecologist or primary care provider regarding risks of blood clot development.
#4: Inactivity – A sedentary lifestyle or traveling long distances can lead to a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the deeper leg veins, primarily caused by a lack of proper blood flow.
#5: High blood pressure – High blood pressure causes harder and faster forcing of blood through blood vessels that can damage the interior walls of arteries. This damage can trigger the body to create blood clots to repair those areas that narrow arteries and limit blood flow.
#6: High cholesterol – Higher than normal levels of low density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol) leads to plaque buildup in arteries, causing narrowing. This slows down blood flow and increases the risk of blood cells clumping and clotting together in those areas of “bottleneck”.
#7: Hormone based medications – Certain hormone-based medications besides birth control pills, such as those used to replace hormones for menopause, can also contribute to an increased risk of blood clots for the same reason as contraceptives.
#8: Blood vessel disorders – Some vascular disorders such as peripheral artery disease (PAD) can increase the risk of undesirable clot formation.
#9: Surgery – Any surgical procedure can increase the risk of blood clot formation due to post-surgical inactivity, which can lead to blood pooling and clot formation in the lower extremities.
#10: Age – Exercise is important at any age. Simple exercise such as walking, regardless of speed, can reduce the risk of clot formation.
There are more than 10 things that raise the risk of blood clots, so discuss such factors with your primary care provider to reduce risks based on your personal health and wellness, mobility, and activity levels.
Feel free to donate to the blood clot charity, the American Blood Clot Association.