Risks of Blood Clots: Here are a few things to keep in mind before going into surgery

blood clots

If you are scheduled for a surgery, you might be feeling nervous or anxious about the procedure and the recovery. This is normal, but you should also be aware of the potential risks and complications that can arise from undergoing an operation. One of these risks is the formation of blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), which can cause serious harm or even death if not prevented or treated.

What are blood clots and why are they dangerous?

Blood clots are clumps of blood that form inside your veins, usually in your legs or pelvis. They can block the blood flow and cause swelling, pain, and redness in the affected area. Sometimes, a part of the clot can break off and travel to other parts of your body, such as your lungs, heart, or brain. This can cause a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism (PE), which is when a clot blocks the artery that supplies blood to your lungs. PE can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and sudden death. A clot that travels to your heart can cause a heart attack, and a clot that travels to your brain can cause a stroke.

Blood clots are more likely to form when you are immobile for a long time, such as during or after a surgery. This is because the blood flow in your veins slows down and becomes stagnant, making it easier for the blood to clot. Some surgeries also damage the blood vessels, which triggers the clotting process. Other factors that increase your risk of developing blood clots include:

  • Your age (the risk increases as you get older)
  • Your medical history (such as cancer, heart disease, or previous blood clots)
  • Your medications (such as hormone therapy or birth control pills)
  • Your lifestyle habits (such as smoking or being overweight)

How can you prevent blood clots?

The good news is that blood clots are often preventable with proper care and precautions. Before your surgery, you should talk to your doctor about your risk of developing blood clots and what measures will be taken to prevent them. Some of the common prevention methods include:

  • Anticoagulants: These are medications that thin your blood and prevent it from clotting. You may be given these drugs before, during, or after your surgery, depending on your risk level and the type of procedure. You should follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take these drugs and report any side effects or bleeding problems.
  • Compression devices: These are devices that apply pressure to your legs or feet to improve the blood circulation and prevent clots from forming. You may be asked to wear these devices during or after your surgery, especially if you have limited mobility. They can be either mechanical (such as pumps or cuffs) or non-mechanical (such as stockings or socks).
  • Physical activity: This is one of the best ways to prevent blood clots, as it helps keep your blood flowing and prevents it from pooling in your veins. You should try to move around as soon as possible after your surgery, with your doctor’s approval. You can start with simple exercises such as flexing your ankles, bending your knees, or walking around. You should also avoid sitting or lying down for long periods of time and elevate your legs when possible.

What are the signs and symptoms of blood clots?

Even with prevention measures, blood clots can still occur in some cases. Therefore, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of blood clots and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of them. Some of the common signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth, or redness in one or both legs
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, coughing up blood, or fainting
  • Sudden weakness, numbness, tingling, vision changes, speech problems, or confusion

Remember that blood clotting can be fatal if not treated promptly. Do not ignore these symptoms or hope that they will go away on their own. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you suspect that you have a blood clot.

Conclusion

Surgery can be a stressful and scary experience for many people. However, by being informed and prepared, you can reduce your anxiety and improve your outcome. One of the things you should know before going into surgery is the risk of developing blood clots and how to prevent them. Blood clots are serious complications that can cause severe harm or death if not detected and treated early. By talking to your doctor about your risk factors and prevention methods, wearing compression devices if prescribed, taking anticoagulants if needed, and staying active after your surgery, you can lower your chances of getting blood clots and enjoy a faster and smoother recovery.

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