Does a Blood Clot Go Away on Its Own?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Does A Bloot Clot Go Away On Its Own

Blood clots can be a serious health concern, and understanding the signs, risks, and treatment options is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. It's crucial to be aware of the symptoms associated with blood clots and seek prompt medical attention if necessary. Symptoms include swelling, pain, or redness in the legs, as well as chest pain and difficulty breathing in the case of pulmonary embolism. The question then arises: can a blood clot resolve on its own, or is medical intervention always necessary?

Blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), are a common health concern that occurs when blood thickens and solidifies inside a vein or artery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that VTE strikes as many as 900,000 Americans each year, with 100,000 people dying of a blood clot every year. Further, three in ten people who have a blood clot will have another blood clot episode within ten years.

While some blood clots are harmless and resolve naturally, others can be life-threatening if left untreated. Understanding the complexities of blood clot formation and their treatment options is crucial for maintaining good health.

What is a Blood Clot?

Blood clots are gel-like masses that form when the blood's natural coagulation process is activated to prevent excessive bleeding. This mechanism is essential for wound healing; however, it can become problematic when clots form inappropriately within blood vessels. Blood clots can happen to anyone and are often preventable.

There are two primary types of blood clots: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

  1. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): DVT typically occurs in the deep veins of the legs and can be caused by factors such as prolonged immobility, surgery, or certain medical conditions. Small clots may resolve on their own, but larger clots or those causing symptoms may require medical attention.
  2. Pulmonary Embolism (PE): PE is a severe complication that arises when a blood clot travels from a deep vein to a lung. PE is a medical emergency requiring immediate intervention. According to the CDC, one in four people who have PE die without warning because of a blood clot in the lungs.

Can Blood Clots Go Away on Their Own?

Yes, blood clots can go away on their own. The body naturally breaks down and absorbs the clot over weeks to months, a process known as fibrinolysis. A normal body process, primary fibrinolysis prevents naturally occurring blood clots from growing and causing health problems. It typically takes about three to six months for a blood clot to go away on its own. However, depending on the location of the blood clot, this lengthy process can be dangerous, and medical treatment may become necessary.

Whether a blood clot will resolve naturally depends on several factors:

  • Size of the clot: Smaller clots may be more likely to dissolve naturally, while larger ones may pose a higher risk of complications.
  • Location of the clot: Clots in certain areas, such as superficial veins, may be more likely to resolve without medical intervention.
  • Certain health conditions: According to Penn Medicine, underlying health issues such as bacterial infections, liver or kidney disease, and cancer can affect the body's ability to dissolve clots, as can obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, and smoking. Also, inherited conditions, such as Factor V Leiden mutation and Prothrombin G20210A mutation, make it more likely for an individual to form abnormal blood clots.

Risks Associated with Untreated Blood Clots

Blood clots can pose various risks, including:

  1. Propagation: Clots can grow in size, increasing the risk of complications.
  2. Organ damage: According to the American Heart Association, blood clots can travel to the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, and limbs, leading to organ damage such as heart attack, stroke, or damage to other vital organs.
  3. Embolism: Clot fragments can break off and travel to other parts of the body, causing severe complications (for example, PE).
  4. Post-thrombotic syndrome: Some individuals may experience long-term complications such as pain and swelling even after a clot has resolved.
  5. Death: Untreated blood clots can result in severe complications and, in some cases, lead to death.

You may have a blood clot if you have undiagnosed leg pain, swelling, or skin discoloration. Seek immediate help. Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) offers a same-day DVT-rule-out service. If needed, CVR can provide anticoagulation treatment, education, and follow-up. Our hotline is 877-SCAN-DVT (866-969-3470).

Treatment Options for Blood Clots

Medical professionals employ different approaches to manage blood clots, depending on the severity and type of clot. Common treatment options include:

  1. Anticoagulant medications: These drugs, such as warfarin or newer oral anticoagulants, help prevent the clot from growing and reduce the risk of new clots forming.
  2. Thrombolytic therapy: In certain situations, healthcare providers may use medications to dissolve the clot more rapidly. This approach is often reserved for severe cases due to the associated risks.
  3. Compression stockings: These can benefit individuals with DVT, helping reduce swelling and improve blood flow in the legs.
  4. Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter: In specific circumstances, a filter may be placed in the vena cava (a large vein that carries blood to the heart) to trap and prevent large clots from reaching the heart and lungs. This device is placed during a short surgery.

Preventive Measures and Lifestyle Changes

Individuals with a history of blood clots, certain medical conditions, or those at increased risk may be prescribed blood thinners as a preventive measure. Several lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of blood clots:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a significant risk factor for blood clots.
  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity improves blood circulation and reduces clot formation.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of clots.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids helps keep the blood thin and flowing smoothly.
  • Avoid long periods of inactivity: If you have to sit or stand for long periods, get up and move around regularly.
  • Manage underlying medical conditions: Addressing health issues that increase the risk of blood clots, such as chronic venous insufficiency (vein disease), diabetes, or high blood pressure, is crucial.

Get help for your swollen, itchy, heavy-feeling legs or varicose veins before problem leg veins progress into a DVT blood clot. Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) is the industry leader in providing safe, effective, personalized outpatient treatment options for vein disease. We have over 200,000 patient interactions annually, consistently earning a 98 percent patient satisfaction rating. When was the last time you heard of 98 percent of people agreeing on anything?!

Schedule a consultation with a CVR vein specialist today! Call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative or schedule your consultation online at a CVR vein clinic near you.

CVR accepts many insurances, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and more.

schedule an appointment

Recognize Symptoms of Blood Clots and Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect a blood clot, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and appropriate management based on your specific situation. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Pain or warmth in a leg or arm
  • Lower leg cramp
  • Swollen, painful veins
  • Change in color or itching of your arm or leg
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe headache
  • Vision changes
  • Pitting edema (that is, a dimple (pitting) when you press on the swollen area

Can I Wait for a Blood Clot to Resolve on Its Own?

While some blood clots can dissolve on their own, ignoring them can lead to serious health problems, even death. It's crucial to be aware of the risks, understand the treatment options, and adopt preventive measures to protect yourself from blood clots. Consulting a healthcare professional for prompt diagnosis and personalized guidance is critical to effectively managing blood clots.

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) offers a same-day DVT-rule-out service. If needed, CVR can provide anticoagulation treatment, education, and follow-up. Our hotline is 877-SCAN-DVT (866-969-3470).

Find CVR Near You