CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Blood clots may form inside small veins near the surface of your skin (superficial phlebitis), resulting in localized redness, pain and swelling. Superficial phlebitis rarely causes complications and requires minimal treatment. Blood clots that form inside larger, deeper veins (deep vein thrombosis) may cause more widespread symptoms in the affected area, usually your leg, and can cause more-serious problems.
Blood clots may also break away from their original source and cause damage elsewhere in your body. Blood clots that break away from a deep vein thrombosis and travel to your lungs may cause a potentially life-threatening blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Blood clots that arise in one of the chambers of your heart, usually due to an irregular heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation, may travel to your brain and cause a stroke. Blood clots that arise in the arteries of the heart itself may block the flow of blood through that artery and cause a heart attack.
Blood clots that arise from within the carotid arteries in your neck may travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Factors and conditions that can cause blood clots, as well as serious conditions that are associated with blood clots once they form and travel to other parts of your body, include:
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
- Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
- Buerger's disease
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Essential thrombocythemia
- Factor V Leiden
- Family history of blood clots
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Certain medications, such as oral contraceptives, hormone therapy drugs and some breast cancer medications
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Polycythemia vera
- Prolonged sitting or bed rest
- Pulmonary embolism
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Majerus PW, et al. Blood coagulation and anticoagulation, thrombolytic, and antiplatelet drugs. In: Brunton LL, et al. Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill; 2006. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=28. Accessed Sept. 27, 2010.
- Coagulation disorders. The Merck Manuals. The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec11/ch136/ch136a.html. Accessed Sept. 27, 2010.
- Your guide to preventing and treating blood clots. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/bloodclots.htm. Accessed Sept. 27, 2010.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 29, 2010.