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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
  • Surgery
  • Age
  • 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
  • Lightheadedness

Thrombosis Treatment

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

Contact us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 866.600.CARE (2273).