Thrombosis & Blood Clots
Thrombosis occurs when blood clots form in an artery or vein and prevent blood from circulating. The two main types of thrombosis are:
- Arterial thrombosis: A blood clot blocks an artery carrying blood away from the heart to the body.
- Venous thrombosis: A blood clot blocks a vein carrying blood from the body back into the heart.
A type of thrombosis called deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when clots form in a deep vein in the body, such as a leg. If the clot breaks loose and travels in the blood, it is called venous thromboembolism (VTE). If the clot moves to the lungs, this is called a pulmonary embolism. When thrombosis occurs in the arties that supply blood to the heart, a heart attack can occur. When thrombosis occurs in arties in the brain, it can lead to stroke.
What Causes Thrombosis?
One in four people die from thrombosis-related issues, but most blood clots can be prevented.
Risks factors for thrombosis can include:
- Family history of thrombosis or DVT
- Lack of movement for a long period of time, such as a hospital stay or travel
- Smoking/Alcohol use
- Being overweight or obese/lack of activity
- Health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and lung disease
Signs of Thrombosis
Thrombosis can be a serious, life-threatening condition. If you notice any of the following, seek medical attention:
- Leg swelling
- Leg pain or tenderness in thigh or calf
- Skin that feels warm to the touch
- Reddish discoloration or streaks on skin
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Fast heart rate
Standard treatment for thrombosis or embolism is blood-thinning medications or anticoagulants. In some cases, thrombolytic therapy with a clot dissolving enzyme, or removing a clot in the lung with surgery or a catheter may be an option.
As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, UI Health has coordinated care protocols for intravenous thrombolysis-eligible patients that result in door-to-treatment times that exceed national benchmarks.
How to Prevent Thrombosis
Inform your healthcare team if you have had a blood clot in in the past.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinks that will dehydrate you like coffee and alcohol
- Perform basic leg exercises, such as stretching
- Don’t wear short tight socks; wear compression stockings that promote blood flow
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Take medication as prescribed
- Stay active and exercise regularly
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 866.600.CARE (2273).