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What is Thrombosis?

Thrombosis is a formation of blood clot in the blood vessels which subsequently causes obstruction in the blood flow. This happens when a clot is formed within a vein or artery blocking the normal flow of blood in the body.


Embolism is the main complication of thrombosis. It occurs when a blood clot breaks off from its origin and moves through the bloodstream. The embolus is detached from the intravascular mass and is capable of clogging capillary beds and can also get stuck in the brain, lungs, heart and any other area and may result to a more severe damage.

Thrombosis Classification

There is mainly two classification of thrombosis based according to the site of clot formation and these are:

Venous Thrombosis

The blood clot formation is concentrated in the vein and the concern of this type of thrombosis is the development of pulmonary embolism which is life threatening. There are different types of thrombosis classified under venous thrombosis and these are:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis. Blood clot formation from this type of thrombosis forms deep within the vein and commonly affecting the leg vein. The clot goes through the vein and cannot be seen through the skin. It occurs mostly in the calf except during pregnancy when the clot lies within the pelvis and thigh.
  • Portal Vein Thrombosis. This type of thrombosis affects the hepatic portal vein that may lead to portal hypertension resulting to a decrease blood flow in the liver. It is known to be a complication of splenectomy. The cause of thrombosis is due to cancer in the liver, pancreas and stomach. It is also the result of liver abscess. Umbilical infection is the common cause of portal vein thrombosis in newborn.
  • Renal Vein Thrombosis. It occurs mostly to patient with nephritic syndrome. The clot formation in this type of thrombosis is formed in the vein that drains blood in the kidney.
  • Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis. It is a rare and potentially fatal form of thrombosis affecting young to middle aged individual and most commonly women. The occurrence of this thrombosis is difficult to determine and this thrombosis is believed to be the uncommon cause of stroke.
  • Jugular Vein Thrombosis. A form of thrombosis in the internal jugular or external jugular. The occurrence is uncommon and affects mostly hospitalized patient and mostly due to intravenous intervention, infection and malignancy.

Arterial Thrombosis

The blood clot formation is situated in the artery and is mostly preceded by a rupture of atheroma. The thrombosis can embolize potentially resulting to infarction to any organ of the body.

  • Stroke. A formation of the thrombus in large or small part of the brain causing a rapid decline in the brain function as a result of decrease supply of blood.
  • Myocardial Infarction. Thrombus formation in the coronary vessel resulting to insufficient blood supply in the myocardium causing necrosis of the heart muscle. Myocardial infarction is commonly known as heart attack.
  • Hepatic Artery Thrombosis. It is a major complication of orthotopic liver transplantation usually occurring more than 30 days after the surgery.

Thrombosis can occur in different parts of the body and can affect almost all individual.

Thrombosis Symptoms

Manifestation of thrombosis varies depending on the site of blood clot formation. Some patient experiences no symptoms of blood clot formation. The symptoms however, differ from an area to another and these are:

Thrombosis of the heart symptoms:

  1. Sudden chest pain that is radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Anxiety
  5. Feeling of indigestion
  6. Palpitations
  7. Unexplained sweating

Thrombosis of the kidney symptoms:

  1. Presence of blood clot in the lungs
  2. Decreased urinary output
  3. Presence of blood in urine
  4. Low back pain
  5. Weight loss

Thrombosis of the brain symptoms:

  1. Confusion and stupor where a patient experience episodes of drowsiness and unable to respond to outside stimuli. The patient will also have the inability to remember or recall familiar personality and events.
  2. Patient will experience symptoms of stroke such as weakness on one side of the face and inability to move one or more limbs.
  3. Headache is the most common symptom of cerebral thrombosis which may tend to worsen over time. Headache may also occur suddenly or the thunderclap headache.
  4. Swelling of the optic disc may occur due to intracranial pressure and patient may have a decrease in level of consciousness.

Thrombosis of the arms and legs symptoms:

  1. Warm sensation in the arm or leg depending on the location of blood clot
  2. Sharp pain is felt when the arm or foot is flexed
  3. Redness and swelling over the affected area
  4. Aching throb on the calves when walking

Thrombosis Causes

Abnormality in blood coagulation increases the risk for thrombosis
Exposure of tissue factor to blood coagulation system due to epithelial cell injury as a result of injury to the wall of the vessel such as from infection and any other form of injury
Disruption in blood flow due to stagnation such as sedentary behavior like long period of sting and lying down.

Thrombosis Treatment

The goal of treating thrombosis is regulating blood flow through application of anticoagulant or commonly called blood thinners to prevent growth and development of blood clot by reducing its clotting power.

  1. Heparin – anticoagulant that acts quickly on the clot and is given to patient through intravenous insertion.
  2. Warfarin – a form of medication in pill which is to be taken orally with water.
  3. Low molecular weight heparin – easier to use and can be done at home without the necessary monitoring.

Thrombosis Prevention

There are factors that can put an individual at risk for thrombosis. These factors should then be recognized and therefore consider controlling or totally avoiding these factors such as:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Overweight
  3. Sedentary lifestyle and behavior

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