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What is Thrombosis?

By J. Beam
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Thrombosis is a medical term that refers to an obstruction of a blood vessel caused by a blood clot, which is called a thrombus. Blood clots can form in both the veins and arteries of the body. When a blood clot obstructs a vein, it is called venous thrombosis and the obstruction of an artery is known as arterial thrombosis. This can be a serious condition, especially when the obstruction occurs in one of the two main arteries of the heart. The condition can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening complications.

There are several types of thrombosis relevant to the type and location of obstruction. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), renal vein thrombosis, cerebral venous thrombosis, and coronary thrombosis are examples. A blood clot, which is caused by coagulation of the blood that forms a gelatinous clump inside a vessel, can occur anywhere in the body. Complications occur when a blood clot blocks the normal flow of blood through the vessels and when a blood clot detaches itself and begins to travel through the body.

There are several causes of blood clots. Disease of or injury to a vein, immobility, blood disorders, certain medications, and various diseases, including arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries are common causes. Similarly, people who are predisposed to blood clots, either because of inherited conditions or medical conditions are at a greater risk of this condition. Lifestyle habits, such as smoking, and obesity can also serve as a contributing factor.

Symptoms may present differently in different people, but can include pain, tenderness, or discomfort in the calf or thigh, swelling, and the recurring formation of blood clots. A physician may diagnose a blockage with a compilation of physical examination and medical history, blood tests and diagnostic testing. It is important to tell your doctor about any medications you currently take, as well as any you may have recently taken, and to discuss known medical conditions and hereditary diseases.

If your doctor diagnoses an obstruction of a vessel or the formation of blood clots, treatment will be necessary and will depend on the extent, type, and location of the blockage. Some of the treatment options your doctor may discuss include anticoagulant medicines, medication or treatment to dissolve the clot, or catheter insertion. People who take anticoagulant medications, also called blood thinners, should always divulge this information to their doctors and other medical personnel, including their dentist and pharmacist before undergoing any procedure or treatment or taking a new medication.

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Discussion Comments
By blackDagger — On May 30, 2011

I’ve heard that women who take the pill and smoke can get a blood clot easier than women who only take the pill.

My sister is not a regular smoker, but she might have a cigarette occasionally if she is out with friends. I never thought this was too terribly bad – I certainly never thought it would actually be dangerous.

Is it true that smoking can increase the risks of a woman taking birth control to get a blood clot, or is it just another thing to try to get people to quit smoking?

If it is a real concern, what are the symptoms of thrombosis?

By tlcJPC — On May 27, 2011

Thrombosis is a very scary thing. It can be fatal, and it isn’t always apparent that a blood clot is present.

A few years ago, my brother in law was in a serious motorcycle accident without a helmet on. He did have blood clots on the brain, but after he was stabilized doctors were more concerned about blood clots developing in his legs.

Apparently, when you can’t get up and move about you are at higher risk of developing thrombosis in your legs, and this can lead to a clot going to your lung.

He had to wear special leg wraps to help prevent the clots.

He was not quite lucid (or course) and he hated those things! He would just beg for them to be taken off. He couldn’t talk, but he would point and plead with his eyes. It was terrible.

Since we couldn’t take them off at the time, I actually got a skinny stick to help scratch up under where they were at.

Of course I didn't want him to get a deep venous thrombosis - but I hated for him to be miserable, too!

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