Thrombosis – What is it and how to reduce your risk.
Thrombosis is a coagulation of blood within your blood vessels that forms in the wrong place. Otherwise known as a blood clot. Thrombosis can lead to an obstruction of blood flow, which is the leading cause of death in America. It is important to take steps to prevent blood clots to protect against, strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, pulmonary embolisms and more.
If a thrombosis (blood clot) detaches from an artery wall, it can travel through the veins. If it travels to the lungs, it can cause pulmonary embolisms or pulmonary infarctions (lung cell death).
If a thrombosis (blood clot) travels to your brain, it can cause a stroke and if it travels to a spot that blocks your coronary artery it can cause a heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death in America. Of these cardiovascular deaths, about 51% are from coronary artery disease, and strokes make up about 16%. Both of these involve thrombosis (blood clots), so it is important to take steps to prevent thrombosis from happening in the first place.
Thrombosis symptoms are different depending on where the blood clot is effecting.
Thrombosis (Heart Attack)
During a heart attack caused by thrombosis, it is possible if the clot is in a minor blood vessel, that you may have no symptoms. However, if the blood clot is large and is in the main left coronary artery it can cut off the entire blood supply and the heart attack can be fatal.
If small thrombosis (blood clots) forms on the walls of your coronary arteries and mixes with LDL (bad cholesterol) it can narrow the artery causing:
- Angina (chest pain)
- shortness of breath
- cold and clammy perspiration
- cold extremities
- overwhelming anxiety
- difficulty concentrating
- chest fluttering
- palpitations (rapid, strong or irregular heartbeat)
When having a heart attack, pain often occurs in the chest, but can move down either arm or your jaw.
If you think you are having a heart attack, the best thing you can do is to chew 1 whole aspirin tablet and get to a hospital. Since Aspirin acts as a blood thinner, it may stall a more extreme heart attack and give you time to receive help.
In a cerebral embolic stroke (An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot that forms elsewhere in the body (embolus) breaks loose and travels to the brain via the bloodstream), the symptoms usually happen very quickly and can cause seizures and headaches on whichever side is effected.
A cerebral thrombotic stroke usually takes minutes to hours to develop and can even happen over several days to weeks. The symptoms are different depending on which part of the brain they affect. This type of stroke may result in:
- weakness of one side of the body
- loss of motor function in a limb
- inability to speak clearly
- loss of consciousness
- blurred vision
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
In a study of 3,324 participants, done by the Journal Neurology, 28% had silent strokes, which were shown through an MRI. They also found that these people had high blood pressure, thickening of their arteries and irregular heart beats. These symptoms show an increased risk of stroke in patients experiencing silent strokes. (Bernick et al. 2001).
The blood clotting system is quite complex. In a healthy body, there is a chemical balance between what causes blood clots and what stop blood clots, and what dilates or widens arteries and what constricts them.
Since there are so many factors that contribute to this balance, it is difficult for conventional medicine to control them all at once.
There are multiple drugs that are used to try to keep this delicate balance.
Thrombosis PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
- Coumadin (warfarin) inhibits the synthesis of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors such as Factors II, VII, IX and X and anticoagulant proteins C and S.
- Aspirin inhibits platelet aggregation by interfering with thromboxane synthesis.
- Ticlopidine (Ticlid) inhibits platelet aggregation by interfering with the binding of fibrinogen to the platelet membrane. Ticlopidine is often considered in patients that have a high risk of thrombotic stroke and are intolerant to aspirin.
- Heparin (administered intravenously) increases the activity of antithrombin III, which prevents the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin.
- Streptokinase and Tissue plasminogen factor (t-PA) activates plasmin which breaks apart fibrin. Both of these drugs are administered intravenously in emergency thrombotic situations (e.g., ischemic stroke or MI).
There is debate about combining nutritional supplements with these strong anticoagulants such as Warfarin, Coumadin and Heparin as it can cause excess bleeding and you need doctor supervision when on these medications.
But not getting the proper supplements can also deprive the body of needed nutrients.
Fish oil, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, green tea and garlic inhibit platelet adhesion (stickiness) and platelet aggregation and are classified as “antiplatelet” agents which help to prevent thrombosis (blood clots).
When the proper nutritional supplements are taken, they support the natural ability of the body to maintain a healthy balance.
Thrombosis and Nutritional Supplements
Policosanol helps to normalize cholesterol, without side effects. It is used by millions of people in other countries and has been shown to be safe through multiple clinical trials.
Policoansol inhibits the formation of blood clots and can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by as much as 20% and raise HDL (good) cholesterol by as much as 10%. This is comparable with many cholesterol lowering drugs.
You can read more about Policosanol at www.medicalpublications.org/policosanol/
(Das et al. 1995; Dirsch et al. 1998; Kim-Park et al. 2000; Kim et al. 2001).
Niacin (vitamin B3) – Large doses of niacin (up to 6 grams daily) have been found to lower cholesterol, raise HDL, and lower LDL and VLDL lipids.
You can learn more about Vitamin B3 at www.medicalpublications.org/vitamin-b3/
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids found in flax, borage, perilla, and fish oils are known to inhibit platelet aggregation (blood clumping)
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a potent antioxidant that is able to inhibit collagen-induced platelet aggregation
You can learn more about Vitamin E at www.medicalpublications.org/vitamin-e/
Caution: If vitamin E is used with Coumadin, the template bleeding time test should be done by the physician to guard against risk of hemorrhage.
Vitamin K plays a unique role in the clotting system by contributing to both coagulation and anticoagulation. Vitamin K is a precursor of coagulation factors II, VII, IX, and X. Vitamin K is also a cofactor for the synthesis of proteins C and S.
You can learn more about Vitamin K at www.medicalpublications.org/super-k/
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is formed in the body as a byproduct from the conversion of methionine to cysteine and other useful substances. If this process gets blocked, it can leave too much homocysteine in the body which is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Clinical research has shown that some vitamins (folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12) are very effective at lowering homocysteine levels.
You can read more about homocysteine at www.medicalpublications.org/homocysteine/
You can learn more about curcumin at www.medicalpublications.org/curamin-pain/
DHEA has been shown to inhibit inflammatory cytokines (cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation) (Straub et al. 2000).
When inflammation is reduced, it decreases platelet aggregation (clumping) and LDL (bad cholesterol) migration in the blood vessel walls.
Green tea protects the cardiovascular system. In a study in the journal Thrombosis, they found that green tea reduced platelet aggregation (blood clumping).
Grape Juice (Seeds, Extract)
Several studies have found that consuming 1 cup of red wine a day had beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. In laboratory tests, they found that purple grape juice inhibited platelet aggregation (blood clumping) and increased nitric oxide levels.
You can read more about grape seed extract at www.medicalpublications.org/grape-seed-extract
The effects of exercise on fibrinogen levels have been extensively studied. Several studies demonstrate that regular exercise lowers fibrinogen levels and reduces the risk of thrombosis (El-Sayed et al. 1999; 2000; Koenig et al. 2000; Imhof et al. 2001; Verissimo et al. 2001).
It is important to make sure that you are getting the proper nutrients to maintain a healthy balance of blood clotting factors and blood vessel dilation factors to avoid getting thrombosis (blood clots)