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Thrombosis

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1 in 4 people worldwide are dying from conditions related to thrombosis. About 900,000 people in the US suffer from thrombosis; about 100,000 die from thrombosis. This has a higher mortality rate than those of breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicles combined- Worldthrombosis.org

What is thrombosis?

Mipscentre

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot (embolus) within a vessel. It can form either in an artery or a vein. The blood clot can either form spontaneously or as part of hemostasis.

Types of thrombosis

  • Venous thrombosis (VT): The most common type is deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT. This occurs when a clot forms in large veins in legs. If the clot breaks off it can go on to block arteries and the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is the blockage of the pulmonary artery.
  • Arterial thrombosis: This form of thrombosis is linked to atherosclerosis(a plaque), where it occludes blood flow and causes stasis of the blood.  

Risk factors

CDC

Some risk factors are not acquired such as;

  • Family history
  • Being inactive for long periods of time e.g. long-haul flights

Whereas some risk factors are acquired such as;

  • Oral contraceptive pill
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

Sign & symptoms

Awareness Days
  • VT: Pain, swelling, redness in the affected area in the leg
  • DVT: Most cases only cause pain, without a change in color and swelling
  • PE: If DVT is not treated, a pulmonary embolism occurs. The most common symptoms are:
    • Shortness of breath that comes suddenly 
    • Pain in your chest when breathing 
    • Coughing up blood
    • a bluish tinge to your skin (cyanosis)
    • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
Wikimedia Commons

Prevention

Most acquired risk factors are modifiable via simple lifestyle changes.

  • Prevent long periods of stasis; walking during flights, hospitalization, as this gets your blood flowing and less stuck together.
  • Treat underlying disease such as hyperlipidemia, diabetes

Treatment

The treatment needs to be effective and fast as it can be life-threatening or lead to other diseases like stroke.

  • Mechanical devices such as compression socks, which help to prevent calf swelling and pain and improve the return of blood back to the heart.
  • Medication such as Alteplase, which helps dissolve clots. Aspirin prevents further clots.
  • Carotid endarterectomy.

Featured image: Dr. Marek Sepiolo Vein Center

Dianabasi Williams

The author Dianabasi Williams

Dianabasi is a Medical Writer at Medics Abroad and a medical student at Trinity College Dublin. She is passionate about volunteering and activism.

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