What is a Blood Clot – Causes, Symptoms, D-dimer Levels and Treatment

Our human anatomy is designed in such a way that the undisrupted flow of blood is running throughout the body all day and every day to keep us up and healthy and it immediately stops the outflow of blood when there is an external injury. If the body continues to pump blood through the injury then more people would have lost their lives in small damage like falling. However, the blockage of blood doesn’t always help, there are circumstances where your body misinterprets and causes internal blood clots which can lead to serious medical conditions and are often fatal if not detected and treated at the earliest.

In this article, we walk you through what a blood clot is, causes, high D-dimer levels, and much more.

What is a Blood Clot?

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Blood clots occur in two forms, one during an external injury where your skin got peeled off due to an accident and the blood cells use a protein called “fibrin D-dimer” to come together and form a blood clot to stop excess blood loss. This is often considered a “good blood clot” as it helps to stop heavy bleeding. On the other hand, blood clots happen within the body, which is not a very healthy sign.

Internal blood clotting conditions often lead to bed-ridden situations like stroke and Deep Vein Thrombosis (a condition where blood clot occurs in the veins of the legs and looks like crooked nerves popping out) where the blood clots inside an important vein blocking the blood flow.

According to a study by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 900,000 people in the US are diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) out of which nearly 100,000 people die in the US. Moreover, nearly 8% of the U.S. population has inherited thrombophilias which is one of the severe genetic risk factors.

What is D Dimer?

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Fibrin is a type of protein that plays a major role in helping to reduce and plug the blood leak. Our body secretes more Fibrin D-dimer whenever there is blood leakage to prevent excess bleeding. Your physician will order a D-dimer test to evaluate the amount of a protein called “Fibrin D-dimer” in the blood.

If your “Fibrin D-dimer” is elevated, then there are high chances of some internal blood clot that needs to be addressed. People who have diseases like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Pulmonary Embolism (PE), Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), or a Stroke will have high D-dimer levels.

If you don’t have any of the above diseases, then your physician will also consider whether you any of the following medical conditions which can contribute to elevated D-dimer levels

  • Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, hormonal changes occur and the new baby’s growth is indicated as high D-dimer indicating that the baby is growing at a healthy rate. In the first trimester, the D-dimer levels are a little high, followed by high during the second trimester and very high levels in the third trimester.
  • Recent Surgery:

Trauma, sickle cell disease, over 60 years of age, consumption of tobacco, and liver diseases like cirrhosis are some of the other causes of D-dimer levels rise. Thus, a D-dimer test helps assess your cause of blood clots and the severity of the disease.

Symptoms of Abnormal D Dimer levels

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When the blood flow is blocked in a particular vein or veins it causes some signs reflecting that something is wrong inside your body. Following are some of the symptoms that indicate your D-dimer levels are high –

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling/pain in the leg (usually in one leg)
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Rapid pulse
  • Coughing with blood (most common in Pulmonary Embolism)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Sometimes, the D-dimer test is also ordered to check the effectiveness of ongoing treatment in cases like stroke, Deep Vein Thrombosis, and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.

Treatment for High D Dimer levels

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If you experience any of the above symptoms, get tested for D Dimer levels as quickly as possible. Diagnostics providers like DxSaver.com have listed top certified labs that test for D-Dimer near you along with their prices all in one place.

In a typical adult, the normal range of the D-dimer level should be less than 0.50 or <500 ng/mL – below 500 nanograms per milliliter. If you have any active blood clot, then your D-dimer levels are typically elevated above the “abnormal” level, that is more than 0.50 or >500 ng/mL – which is elevated above 500 nanograms per milliliter.

Following are the 4 major causes of elevated D-dimer due to a blood clot, and the treatment varies as per your condition –

  • Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Treatment includes prescribing medications like anticoagulants, also called blood thinners that thin your blood and make it easy to pass through the blood clots. In extreme cases where blood thinners won’t work, surgery may be recommended to remove the clots in the veins.

  • Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

Treatment for PE is similar to that of DVT. The blood clots in the lungs are aided by not making any further blood clots with the help of blood thinners as they pass through the blocks easily.

  • Treatment for Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)

DIC is a type of clot that can appear anywhere in the body’s blood vessels, typically near the heart causing congestion in transporting blood across the body. Treatment is similar to DVT, that is blood thinners and in extreme cases where blood thinners won’t help, surgery may be undertaken.

If you do not have any of the above conditions, your physician will request additional tests to confirm your cause and then prescribe medications as per your results. Generally, high D-dimer levels are not a life-threatening issue, however, that can be said only if diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

Conclusion

If a blood clot is left untreated, it can lead to severe health complications and may cause irreversible damage. Blood clots can be good in most cases. When the clot starts to form inside the blood vessels like inside the heart, lungs, and legs then it can get worrisome. Consuming junk foods and inactiveness are the common causes of blood congestion in blood vessels. Leading a healthy lifestyle – taking fiber-rich foods, and working out for at least 30 minutes can keep you away from serious health conditions.

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