Thrombosis

Thrombosis is the name given to the formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel - both veins and arteries. This condition is a common ailment and is potentially fatal.

There are three main types of thrombosis:

Arterial thrombosis
This is the name given to a clot travelling in the arteries, blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. A clot in the arterial system may not always cause obvious symptoms. Pieces of this clot, called emboli, can break off and circulate around the body. As the clot travels further into the arterial system the vessels become smaller, increasing the chance that the clot will plug a vessel. This blocks normal blood flow to the tissues beyond the 'plug' and may cause serious damage because oxygen cannot reach the cells.

Venous thrombosis
Venous thrombosis commonly occurs in the larger veins - vessels which carry blood towards the heart. Immobility is an important factor in venous thrombosis because venous blood flow depends on muscle movement to pump it against gravity. Slow flowing blood is more likely to form clots. Other risk factors for venous thrombosis include pregnancy, diabetes, smoking, the pill, old age, surgery and obesity.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the most common type of venous thromboses. DVT occurs in the deep veins of the legs causing pain, redness and swelling in the leg. Like arterial thromboses, venous thromboses can break apart, forming emboli, which can become lodged in the vessels of the heart or lungs.

Post-thrombotic syndrome
Approximately 60 per cent of patients who have experienced an episode of deep-vein thrombosis will develop post-thrombotic syndrome within two years. Post-thrombotic syndrome varies from mild fluid retention to severe swelling of the limbs with pain and ulceration. A recent scientifically controlled study has revealed that the risk of developing post-thrombotic syndrome was reduced by 50 per cent in patients wearing a sized-to-fit compression stocking.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
As with all medical conditions, your Doctor should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment options will vary depending on the type of thrombosis you have. Your Doctor, for example, may prescribe anticoagulant medication to prevent clots from getting bigger or reduce your risk of developing additional clots. The use of anticoagulant medication must be closely monitored for side effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Your Doctor will discuss all diagnostic and treatment options with you.

DIET HINTS
• Eat a variety of nutritious foods, including wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, lean meat, beans and low fat dairy products.
• Avoid foods with a high saturated fat content, including animal fats, full-fat dairy products (cream, cheeses and milk) and most processed (pastries, cakes, biscuits etc.) and take away foods.
• Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are part of a comprehensive nutritional approach to healthy blood vessels. A major effect of omega 3 fatty acids is to reduce the triglyceride levels in the blood and prevent platelets (blood cells responsible for clotting) from clumping together.
• Vitamin E has some antithrombotic and antioxidant properties, which helps, maintain the health of red blood cells. Good sources of Vitamin E include; wheatgerm and wheatgerm oil, eggs, organ meats, sweet potatoes and leafy vegetables.

SUPPLEMENTS AND HERBS
• Garlic and ginger thin the blood. The recommended dose of garlic is the equivalent of one garlic clove per day.
• The herbs ginkgo biloba and cat's claw may help reduce the stickiness of the blood.
• Flavonoids, such as those found in grape seed extract, tea, grape skins, red wine and berry fruits may help reduce the risk of blood clots.
• Essential fatty acids (found in certain fish and cold pressed vegetable oils) can reduce blood stickiness by modifying levels of chemicals called prostaglandins.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
1. Look at ways you can improve the health of your heart and blood vessels through exercise and diet. Your healthcare professional can offer guidance and support as you move towards a healthier lifestyle.
2. Regular physical activity is vitally important to maintain healthy circulation. Walking, gardening, dancing or stretching are all gentle ways to introduce regular exercise into your life.
3. Some experts recommend that anyone with a higher risk of thrombosis should have one low-dose aspirin tablet a day, to help keep the blood thin. Talk to your MedAux pharmacist or Doctor for more information. Note: aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a doctor. Aspirin should be avoided in children if they are feverish
4. Ask your pharmacist for advice about compression stockings, which may help to reduce the risk of developing post-thrombotic syndrome. Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for the development of thrombosis. Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice on quitting.

CAUTIONS
Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a doctor. Aspirin should be avoided in children if they are feverish.