Blood Clot Prevention
What are Blood Clots?
Normal clots are an essential part of the healing process, both inside blood vessels and at external injury sites. However, if a blood clot blocks blood flow to organs or tissues, it can be very dangerous. Abnormal blood clots (thrombosis) are the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes.
High-risk individuals are generally treated with antiplatelet drugs or anticoagulants. While these drugs can reduce risk of developing a clot, they fail to address many underlying risk factors and can have serious side effects.
Natural interventions like olive oil/olive leaf extract and quercetin may help prevent thrombosis and the related complications.
What are Risk Factors for Blood Clots?
- High LDL cholesterol/low HDL cholesterol
- Elevated glucose/insulin levels
- Obesity, especially excess abdominal fat
- History of stroke, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, or coronary artery disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Thyroid disorders
What are Conventional Medical Treatments for Blood Clots?
- Antiplatelet drugs (eg, aspirin and clopidogrel)
- Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin and heparin)
What are Emerging Therapies for Blood Clots?
- New anticoagulants: dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban
What Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Can Be Beneficial for Blood Clots?
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats (Mediterranean style diets can be beneficial)
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
What Natural Interventions Can Help Prevent Blood Clots?
- Olive. Olives (and olive oil and olive leaf extract) have been used to combat high blood pressure and high cholesterol for many years. Various olive preparations have been shown to have antithrombotic effects.
- Green and black tea. Tea consumption has been linked to increased cardiovascular health. Subjects who consumed black tea had reduced platelet aggregation.
- Quercetin. Quercetin, a flavonoid naturally found in many plants, has demonstrated success in preventing platelet aggregation.
- Salvia. Salvia is a diverse group of plants with many species. Red sage and chia are two examples shown to have antithrombotic effects.
- Resveratrol. In vitro and animal studies have demonstrated resveratrol’s ability to inhibit platelet adhesion and aggregation. A human study also showed resveratrol (from wine) inhibited platelet activation.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes contain several compounds associated with cardiovascular health, lycopene being the most well-known. Tomato extracts have been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and lower cholesterol.
- Garlic. Garlic has been shown to promote cardiovascular health in many human studies. One of the benefits observed in several cases was garlic’s ability to reduce platelet aggregation.
- Fish oil. Fish oil, which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, has demonstrated the ability to lower triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and risk of cardiovascular mortality. It also has antithrombotic activity.
- Curcumin. Curcumin has many protective roles in cardiovascular health. It can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and also has antiplatelet activity.
- Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) was effective at decreasing incidence of thrombosis in travelers on long flights, people who previously experienced deep vein thrombosis, and cancer patients.
- Ethanol. Consuming ethanol (drinking alcohol)in low doses can reduce thrombotic risk by modifying platelet function and reducing platelet aggregation. Exceeding the daily recommended amount (two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women), however, increases clot risk.
- Other natural interventions that can help prevent blood clots and improve cardiovascular health include niacin, vitamin C, nattokinase, grape seed extract, pomegranate, capsaicinoids, and ginger.