Human blood has a tough job, according to Dr. John Chuback of the Chuback Medical Group. On the one hand, it has to remain liquid enough to flow smoothly through the arteries and veins of your body, but on the other hand if you cut yourself, it needs to clot quickly enough to stop the loss of blood. Blood clotting is a complex process – first tiny platelets clump together at the source of the injury to reduce the bleeding, then they release chemicals to produce fibrin to harden the platelet plug and stop the bleeding altogether, and finally, when the damaged vessel has healed, an enzyme called plasmin breaks down the fibrin so that the no-longer-needed blood clot dissolves. All of this is normal and healthy.
What do our Bergen County, New Jersey patients need to know about the causes of blood clots?
Excessive blood clotting can be caused by genetic factors (whether members of your family have developed blood clots before or whether you carry certain genes), by diseases (such as diabetes, inflammatory vasculitis, metabolic syndrome, Buerger's disease, and others), and medications (birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or chemotherapy drugs). Blood clots can also result from damage caused to the veins during surgery, from hormonal changes related to pregnancy, and age-related changes in the structure of blood vessels.
Other causes of blood clots are more lifestyle-related. Being a smoker greatly increases one's risk of developing blood clots, as does being overweight or obese. Long periods of inactivity or immobility, such as having a job that requires one sit all day, traveling for long periods in confined airline seats, or being confined to bed after illness or surgery also increase the risk of blood clots, because the muscles that normally pump blood through the veins are not being used.
Blood clots can also be triggered by autoimmune disorders such as Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (in which the body creates antibodies that attack fats called phospholipids in the lining of blood vessels) and by certain bone marrow disorders such as polycythemia vera (which creates too many red blood cells) and thrombocythemia (which creates too many platelets).
Whatever the cause, how can blood clots be diagnosed and treated?
Because blood clots often do not present themselves in the form of easily recognizable symptoms, if you have varicose veins or any of the above-mentioned risk factors you should see a vein specialist and ask about a screening for DVT. Vein disease treatment specialists like Dr. Chuback of the Chuback Medical Group in Paramus, NJ, are experts in using the latest non-invasive techniques such as Doppler ultrasound to detect the presence of blood clots. They can also perform blood tests to detect antibodies and other factors that would indicate a clot.
If a clot (or a high risk of developing them) is found, there are many forms of effective treatment. The first step of treatment is often the use of anti-coagulant drugs to keep new clots from forming. But since these drugs do not dissolve existing blood clots, the next step in treatment may be some form of prophylaxis (cleaning) such as endovenous laser treatment. But the real first step is a proper diagnosis, so that your vein treatment specialists can learn what the actual problems are and prescribe the most effective treatment options. So call Dr. Chuback at 201.430.2737 to set up an appointment for a screening.