What is thrombosis and what are its risks?

What is thrombosis and what are its risks?


Thrombosis occurs when thrombus or blood clots block blood vessels. There are two types of the thrombosis:

  • venous thrombosis, when a blood clot clogs a vein;
  • arterial thrombosis when a blood clot clogs an artery.

The risks of the thrombosis depend on its location. If the thrombosis occurs in arteries which supply blood to a heart, it may cause a heart attack, but if the arterial thrombosis occurs in the blood vessels of a brain, it may lead to a stroke.

If a thrombus breaks away from a wall of the blood vessel, it may travel to lungs and partially or completely block blood flow to the lungs. It is called pulmonary embolism.

The pulmonary embolism is a serious and life-threatening disease. About a quarter, i.e., 25% of people with the pulmonary embolism die suddenly. (1)

Symptoms of the pulmonary embolism are:

  • unexplained shortness of breath;
  • rapid breathing;
  • pain in a chest, under a costal arch (pain may increase with a deep breath);
  • rapid cardiac activity;
  • dizziness or fainting.

Symptoms of the thrombosis of limbs (arms, legs) are:

  • oedema, pain, numbness in a leg or arm;
  • skin warm to the touch
  • skin redness or red streaks on skin.

The thrombosis is life-threatening, therefore its early diagnosis and treatment are essential. Usually, a doctor will prescribe drugs which thin blood to prevent the thrombus formation or drugs which dissolve the blood clots.

Tips to prevent the thrombosis:
  1. Maintain a healthy weight, since obesity is one of the risk factors for the thrombosis occurence!
  2. Lead an active lifestyle, but if you must sit in one place for a long time, do not forget to get up every hour to move a little!
  3. Quit smoking!

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Online] 9 June 2022 [Quotation: 20 June 2022] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/data.html.

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