Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized hours ago after doctors discovered a blood clot during a follow-up examination from a concussion earlier this month. While blood clots in healthy people are designed to stop excessive bleeding and help wounds heal, they can be deadly when they happen unexpectedly without a natural cause.
What is a Blood Clot?
Blood clots occur naturally in the human body when blood is exposed to certain substances, most often found in the skin or in blood vessel walls. Clots are essential to stop bleeding when the body is injured, however they can also form from improper blood flow from an abnormal heart rhythm or because of excessive cholesterol.
Causes of Blood Clots
According to the US Department of Health and Human Resources, there are several risk factors for having a blood clot, including whether you:
- Have had surgery recently
- Are older than 65
- Have had cancer or are being treated for it
- Have broken a bone (hip, pelvis, or leg)
- Have a bad bump or bruise
- Are obese
- Are confined to bed or a chair much of the time
- Have had a stroke or are paralyzed
- Have varicose (VAR-e-kos) or bad veins
- Have heart trouble
- Have had a blood clot before.
- Have a family member who has had a blood clot.
- Have taken a long trip (more than an hour) in a car, airplane, bus, or train.
How to Minimize Your Risk
If you’re at risk of suffering from a blood clot, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.
Aspirin interferes with your body’s natural clotting abilities. This means if you get a cut or scrape you’ll be more likely to bleed excessively, however if you’re at risk for having a deadly blood clot, daily aspirin therapy may be for you.
Wear loose-fitting clothes, socks, or stockings.
Tight clothing can restrict blood flow, increasing blood pressure and your risk for a blood clot. So avoid spandex, tight jeans, and any clothing that is uncomfortable and just too tight.
Change your position often, especially during a long trip
If you’re a frequent traveler or are planning to be on a flight for a long period of time, make sure you’re moving around during travel. Doing something as simple as flexing your toes back and pointing them forward could be enough to prevent a blood clot.