Blood Clots

Blood clots are semi-solid or gel-like masses that form in your arteries and veins. Blood clots help control bleeding, but they may also cause serious medical issues, including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and heart attack.

What is a blood clot?

A blood clot is a semi-solid mass of blood cells and other substances that form in your blood vessels. Blood clots protect you from bleeding too much if you’re injured or have surgery. However, you may develop blood clots for other reasons, such as having certain medical conditions. When that happens, blood clots may cause symptoms and can be life-threatening.

What do blood clots do?

Blood clots are the first line of defense if something damages your delicate blood vessels. If you cut yourself from shaving, blood clots are why the bleeding usually stops after a few seconds or minutes.

You can develop a blood clot for other reasons, such as being immobile for a long time or having medical conditions that increase your blood clot risk. When that happens, your blood doesn’t flow as it should.

Can I prevent blood clots?

If you’re born with an inherited (genetic) form of blood clotting disorder, you can’t do anything to prevent the condition or blood clots that happen because of the condition. But you may reduce your risk of developing blood clots by:

  • Seeing a healthcare provider for an annual physical examination.
  • Participating in regular cancer screenings.
  • Staying at a healthy weight for you.
  • Not smoking.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Considering non-estrogen alternatives for birth control or hormone therapy.
  • Staying active.
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