What is Arterial Thrombosis?

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  • Written By: Helena Reimer
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Arterial thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms within the arteries. Thrombosis, or clotting, is helpful in stopping the bleeding and healing the artery if it has a hole or is damaged. In cases when the arteries are not damaged, the thrombosis can reduce or even block the blood supply, causing a stroke, a heart attack or peripheral vascular disease. The symptoms of arterial thrombosis include pain in the area of the clot, weakness, paleness and paralysis. The risk factors include a poor diet, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a family history of the disease.

There are two main types of thrombosis that can form in the blood vessels. Venous thrombosis forms in the veins, which transport the blood back to the heart, and arterial thrombosis forms in the arteries, which pump the blood away from the heart. Arterial thrombosis is a serious condition because it robs the cells of vital nutrients such as oxygen. If not treated immediately, it can lead to rapid cell death and permanent damage to the tissues.


A stroke can occur if the thrombosis forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. Some of the symptoms of a stroke include the inability to move certain parts of the body, such as the arms or legs, as well as weakness and difficulty speaking. Pain and tightness in the chest, weakness, nausea, sweating and difficulty breathing are signs of thrombosis in one of the arteries that supply the heart, which can result in a heart attack. Peripheral vascular disease is when the thrombosis is in the legs. Its symptoms include pain when walking, numbness and paleness, and if it is not treated, it can lead to a mini-stroke.

Atherosclerosis is one of the major risk factors for developing arterial thrombosis, because the arteries are already hardened and narrowed, which makes it easier for a blood clot to form. Some other risk factors include high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, diabetes and a family history of the disease. Although it can take years to form, the symptoms can be sudden, and diagnosing arterial thrombosis immediately is essential to prevent permanent damage. A physical exam as well as recognizing early symptoms can help in diagnosing the condition.

There are several methods of treating arterial thrombosis, such as medications, cardiac stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting. Consuming a healthy diet and maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels are good steps one can take to prevent arterial thrombosis. Certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or getting more exercise, also can reduce the risks.


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