Blood Clot Treatment – Surgical vs Medications vs Natural Remedies
There are many different types of blood clot treatment, and which one is right depends on what type of clot is present, where it is located and how big it is. Some clots are considered medical emergencies while others are less severe and require little if any treatment. Because of this, clots can be treated with medications, surgery or home care.
A deep vein thrombosis refers to a large clot that has formed in the larger veins of the body. Most often, they appear in the legs, but rarely may occur in the arms as well. Immobility is one of the major contributing factors to a deep vein thrombosis and the condition has even been dubbed the “economy class” condition because it has occurred in passengers on airplanes due to long periods of sitting. A deep vein thrombosis is normally treated in a hospital with intravenously or injected medications that are used for blood clot treatment. Occasionally however, these clots can move and lead to serious health complications.
One such complication that can arise from a deep vein thrombosis is a clot that dislodges and moves into the lung. This is known as a pulmonary embolism and is very serious. It is not common for clots to form in the lungs themselves; rather they end up there after breaking off from the veins in the legs and traveling upward. A pulmonary embolism is also treated with medications in a hospital and blood thinning medications are also used following this medical treatment to prevent the risk of future clots.
In fact, anticoagulant therapy is the most common type of blood clot treatment. In a hospital environment, drugs like heparin are used to prevent the existing clot from becoming bigger and also to prevent the recurrence of additional clots. Heparin is a very strong anticoagulant that works very quickly within the body. There are some disadvantages to anticoagulant therapy however. Regular monitoring of the blood is required in order to determine proper dosing and this requires a lengthily hospital stay, often for as many as five to ten days. Side effects of this type of treatment can include rashes, headaches, upset stomach, cold symptoms and bleeding. Still, anticoagulants remain the most common form of blood clot treatment for many cases.
Surgical removal of a clot is reserved for serious and life threatening instances only. It is most often used to remove a blood clot in the brain. The method by which clots are removed by surgical means is a dangerous and intense procedure when they have occurred in the brain. The skull must be opened either by holes being placed in the skull or via craniotomy. Once the area harboring the clot is exposed, it is quickly evacuated. Serious risks of this type of blood clot treatment include the reformation of clots, neurological problems, seizures and even death. Thus it is not common for surgical removal of a clot to be recommended, however it does occur when the benefit outweighs the risks of the procedure.
What causes blood clots however is not always serious or considered a medical emergency. In fact, some superficial clots are caused by nothing more than varicose veins and require little if any treatment. These can be caused by pregnancy, certain blood clotting disorders, injury or hormone therapy like birth control pills. Often, home care is all that is required for these superficial clots that occur in smaller veins that are close to the surface of the skin and blood thinner medications are almost never needed. Typically, compression garments and daily aspirin are useful for preventing the recurrence of superficial clots.
There are some other natural treatment options to consider for surface clots (although it is important to understand that DVT and serious clots are serious and should prompt immediate medical treatment). But, for people who have thick blood from lifestyle factors such as smoking, there are natural options to help thin the blood and reduce the risk of subsequent clots. Thick blood can make it harder for blood to travel throughout the body and can lead to an increased risk of clots. There are herbs that are considered to be natural blood thinners like ginger and garlic. When incorporated regularly, they can thin the blood and reduce the risk of a dangerous blood clot.
There are also foods that thin blood as well. These can be used for blood clot treatment in some cases of superficial clots, but are most useful to prevent their recurrence. It is important to understand that foods that thin blood are useful only for maintenance and should not be considered appropriate blood clot treatment. These blood thinning foods are effective because of their salicylate content. Salicylates work to counteract the coagulating effects of vitamin K within the body and keep the consistency of the blood at proper levels.
The type of treatment required for a clot depends on the location of the clot, the size and whether or not it is a medical emergency. For DVTs and complications resulting from them, hospitalization and medications are necessary. Serious clots may require surgery for removal. And, superficial clots can often be managed with home care and natural treatment options. But, it is up to a doctor to decide what type of treatment is best and any blood clot that has formed should be promptly evaluated by a health care provider. Not only is this critical in order to begin necessary treatments, it is also essential to determine the cause of the clots if possible. This will help to prevent their recurrence and avoid the associated dangers of blood clots.