When the body gets injured and bleeds, it starts a complex process called hemostasis to stop the bleeding. One of the main ways it does this is by making a clot, which changes blood from a liquid that flows easily into a gel-like substance that stops more bleeding.
This process needs platelets, which are a kind of blood cell, and different proteins that work together to fill the injury site.
As the injury heals, the body starts another process to get rid of the clot. But sometimes, clots can form where they should not, inside blood vessels, and this can cause serious health problems. In these cases, doctors may need to take out the clot.
The body has a natural way of clearing clots with a protein called plasmin, which is inside the clot. To make plasmin work, the body sends out an activator, which makes the clot’s mesh-like structure break down.
Sometimes, doctors may give medicine to help get rid of blood clots. The kind of medicine will depend on the kind and how bad the clot is. For example, a doctor may give:
- Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, are often used to stop clots from getting bigger and to stop new clots from forming. Blood thinners stop some of the clotting proteins in the body from working. Different kinds of blood thinners work in different ways, like by stopping fibrin, a protein that makes the mesh of the clot, or by making the liver slower at making clotting proteins.
- Thrombolytic medications are another kind of medicine for blood clots. These drugs make plasmin work, which gets rid of the clot. Thrombolytics are usually only used for very bad conditions, like pulmonary embolism, which happens when a blood clot goes to an artery in the lungs.
How long it takes for a clot to go away can be different depending on how bad the clot is and how healthy the person is.
Clots on the surface may go away in a few weeks, while deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism may take a few months.
Sometimes, a clot may cause scars or other damage that can lead to problems that last a long time, like post-thrombotic syndrome or pulmonary hypertension.
It is important to know how serious blood clots are and get medical help right away if you think you have a clot. The effects of blood clots can be very bad, and getting help quickly is important to lower the risk of problems.