What is Thrombosis?
Thrombosis is a severe circulatory disorder caused by a blood clot blocking the blood flow in a vein (venous thrombosis) or an artery (arterial thrombosis).
Blood clotting is one of the natural mechanisms to reduce blood loss after injuries. Whenever the inner layer of a vessel’s wall is damaged special blood cells, the platelets or thrombocytes and a certain protein (fibrin) form a blood clot to seal the lesioned area. The blood clot is also called thrombus. If the thrombus is too big it may clog the vessel and disrupt the blood flow.
Sometimes the thrombus breaks loose from the vessel’s wall and is carried into another vessel by the blood stream, blocking the blood flow there. This “travelling” blood clot is called embolus and the disease thromboembolism. Depending on the area of the body the blood clot is travelling to, thromboembolism may cause pulmonary embolism, heart attack or stroke .
The cause of a venous thrombosis is not always apparent but could be due to:
- Blood vessel damage
- Medical and genetic conditions
- Contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Other causes
Such as being overweight or obese, a smoker, becoming dehydrated or if you are
over 60 – particularly if you have a condition that restricts your mobility
If you are suffering from peripheral arterial disease or coronary artery disease your risk for thrombosis is elevated. The therapy of peripheral arterial disease and/or coronary artery disease is crucial to prevent thrombosis. Please read more about peripheral arterial disease (link to PAD section) or coronary artery disease.
In addition, the physician prescribes blood-thinning medication (anticoagulants and/or antiplatelet drugs) if your risk of blood clot forming is very high, e.g. after surgery.