Blood Clots

A Patient & Family Information Guide

Blood Clots

Please note

The following safety information will be reviewed with you by a member of your health care team when you are admitted to hospital.

STOP the CLOT: Helping you to prevent & detect a serious blood clot

What is a blood clot?

Blood clots occur when the blood hardens from a liquid to a solid inside of a blood vessel or vein. This is a normal process. Clotting helps you to stop bleeding if you are injured. Even if you are not injured, a clot can still form in your blood vessel. Blood clots can stick to the inside of the blood vessel and stop the flow of blood. This is called a Thrombus. If a clot breaks free and travels through the blood to another place in the body, it is an Embolus.
At the hospital, we refer to blood clotting as Venous Thromboembolism or VTE.

Who can develop a blood clot?

There is a chance anyone can develop a blood clot at any time. However, when you are sick in hospital, your chance of developing a blood clot is much higher.

Things that increase your chance of having a blood clot while in the hospital include:

  • Not being able to move around Recent surgery
  • Heart or Lung disease
  • Major Trauma
  • Active infection or cancer Acute Medical Illness

Other reasons include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Hormone therapy
  • Being over the age of 40

Why are blood clots so dangerous?

Blood clots can prevent oxygen from reaching tissues in your body. Without oxygen, your tissues will be damaged. A blood clot can cause pain and swelling, and can also be life threatening. Blood clots that travel to your lungs can be deadly. It is very important for you to watch your body for signs of blood clots and seek medical attention if you have signs or symptoms.

How do you know if you have a blood clot?

A blood clot in the leg is called Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. Symptoms include: pain or tenderness, swelling, and warm red skin.

A blood clot that travels to the lung is a Pulmonary Embolism or PE. Symptoms include: breathing problems, chest pain, sudden fainting, and coughing up blood.

What medication is used to prevent blood clots?

In medical terms, “clotting” is referred to as “coagulation”. The medications used to prevent clots are called “anti-coagulants”. You may know these medications as “blood thinners”. These medications slow down the amount of time it takes for the blood to make a clot.There are different medications that can be used to prevent blood clots. These medications may be used while you are in the hospital or at home. If you have questions about these medications, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or nurse.

How can you prevent a clot?

  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Move around as much as you can
  • Do leg exercises in bed
  • Stop smoking cigarettes