Singer Tori Kelly hit headlines for unexpected reasons after suffering a series of blood clots – you’re probably wondering how serious and how common these clots are – we’re here to break it all down, along with updating you on the beloved star’s health status.
The 30-year-old was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital after collapsing while out with friends – the doctors found blood clots in her lungs and legs. The “Dear No One” singer says she’s recovering, though uncertainty remains.
“As you may have heard, I’m dealing with some unexpected health challenges,” Tori wrote on Instagram. “It’s been a scary few days but I can feel your prayers and can’t stop thinking about you. I’m feeling stronger now and hopeful but unfortunately there are still some things to uncover.”
So, what are blood clots and who’s at risk?
Blood clots, also known as thrombosis, are gel-like masses of blood that form in the body's blood vessels. Now this isn’t always a bad thing – after all, clotting is a natural response to injury and helps prevent excessive bleeding when a blood vessel is damaged. But when blood clots form inside blood vessels without an apparent injury, they can lead to serious health issues, such as blocking blood flow to vital organs, causing heart attacks, strokes or other life-threatening conditions.
Blood clots are relatively common, and their prevalence varies depending on the type of clot and the population being studied. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the legs, affects millions of people worldwide each year. Pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially life-threatening condition where a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, affects a significant number of individuals as well. Here in Australia, tens of thousands of people wind up in hospital with blood clots – between 2017 and 2018 alone, there were 55, 000 cases, with DVT the most common cause.
While blood clots can affect anyone, certain factors can increase the risk of developing them. These risk factors include:
- Prolonged Immobility: Long periods of inactivity, such as during long flights, hospital stays, or extended bed rest, can increase the risk of blood clots. If you’re taking a long haul flight, it’s always a good idea to stretch every now and then!
- Surgery or Trauma: Surgeries, especially those involving the legs or abdomen, can increase the risk of blood clots. Severe injuries can also contribute to clot formation.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as cancer, heart failure, inflammatory diseases, and certain genetic or blood disorders, can increase the risk of blood clots.
- Pregnancy and Postpartum: Pregnancy and the postpartum period increase the risk of blood clots due to hormonal changes and decreased blood flow.
- Birth Control and Hormone Therapy: Some forms of hormonal birth control and hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in women over 35 and those who smoke. In fact, the blood clot risk for those on the pill rises 3 times, affecting 1 in 3000 women – it may not seem like a lot, but that’s still a hefty jump from the rest of the population’s risk, and a good reason to take a closer look at the side effects – unfortunately, your doctor won’t always flag these!
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of developing blood clots, due to the chronic inflammation and impaired clotting processes that often come with obesity. The research shows that these two factors significantly raise our risk for developing clots. Our added sugar addiction and reliance on ultra-processed foods is one of the many elements leading to high rates of obesity - that means a large portion of us here in Australia are at a raised risk for clots, with almost 70% being overweight or obese - you're never too young to develop this dangerous condition!
- Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of blood clot formation.
- Age: The risk of blood clots tends to increase with age.
- Family History: A family history of blood clots or clotting disorders can predispose individuals to develop them.
So, if you tick any of the above boxes, it’s worth having a chat with your doctor. There are a number of simple lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce your risk, and these include a healthy diet and regular exercise. Of course, in many cases, this won’t be enough to ward off the condition, so it’s always important to check in with your doctor if you have any concerns or symptoms.
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