Thrombosis definition types consequences treatment

About 100.000 times our heart beats per day. Pumps about 10.000 liters of blood through our body. 000 times our heart beats per day. Pumps up around 10.000 liters of blood through our body.000 liters of blood through our body. The blood flows through our blood vessels and supplies organs and ties with oxygen. If a blood clot prevents the flow of blood through arteries and veins, it is a thrombosis. informs you about the different forms of thrombosis, their causes and clarifies the possible consequences of a thrombotic disease.

Thrombosis: Definition, types, consequences& Treatment

Table of Contents

thrombosis: Definition

Thrombosis is the complete or partial blockage of a blood vessel by a blood clot (thrombus). If this happens in an artery, it is called a multi-stage thrombosis
arterial thrombosis spoken. If, on the other hand, a thrombus forms in a vein, there is a Venous thrombosis before.

The fact that our blood clots is part of our body's vital protective mechanism. However, what is of paramount importance in injuries and inflammations to prevent excessive blood loss can cause massive problems in blood vessels: If a blood clot forms in an artery or vein, blood flow is disrupted. The vital blood supply of the body is thus endangered by the thrombosis. The word "thrombus" originates from the Greek. Is translated as clot or clot. The medical term thrombus is less common than the term blood clot. Thrombi occur when the blood clots and the platelets form a clot (thrombus). Blood clots in veins or arteries disrupt the blood flow and are the cause of thrombosis. (1)

In the case of thrombosis, a blood clot prevents the blood from flowing further.

Types of thrombosis: venous thrombosis& Arterial thrombosis

A thrombus (blood clot) can form in any blood vessel. It is the blood platelets, the thrombocytes, that attach themselves to the vessel wall and clump together in the process. Consequently, a blood clot forms, which prevents the flow of blood.

Thrombosis is basically determined by where the thrombus is located in the body. Depending on the blood vessel in which the thrombus forms, physicians distinguish between the following two types of thrombosis: (2)

– Arterial thrombosis – venous thrombosis

Types of thrombosis

The following is an overview of the two types of thrombosis and their common sites of origin:

Arterial thrombosis

In an arterial thrombosis, an Blood clot in an artery, the so-called artery. Arteries are vessels that transport blood away from the heart to the organs. Arterial thrombi usually form where the vessels branch or become narrower, such as in the legs or brain. In the worst case, arterial thrombosis can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Coronary thrombosis: Thrombus in the heart

If a blood clot forms in a vessel in the heart, it is called a coronary thrombosis. Cardiac thrombosis belongs to the group of arterial thromboses. Due to the narrowed blood vessels, hardly any oxygen reaches the heart, so that in the worst case a heart attack follows.

A thrombus can form in an artery as well as in a vein.

Venous thrombosis

Venous thrombosis is the term used when an Blood clot in a vein arises. Veins are vessels that transport blood from organs and muscles back to the heart. Most often, vascular occlusion occurs in the veins of the leg and pelvis.

Thromboses in veins can be further subdivided: (3)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Here the venous thrombus is stuck in a deep vein. The leg veins in the upper or lower leg are often affected. Typical symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are a sudden swelling of the leg, pain, and a bluish discolored, shiny skin. Physicians also speak of phlebothrombosis.
Superficial Vein Thrombosis (OVT): In this case, inflammation of the vein is accompanied by a blood clot in the affected superficial vein. Most commonly, OVT occurs in the leg or as an arm thrombosis. Typical symptoms are a tense feeling of skin on the arm or leg or an initially inconspicuous varicose vein. The medical term is thrombophlebitis. While superficial venous thrombosis occurs rather rarely, deep vein thrombosis is one of the most common diseases of the cardiovascular system according to the German Society for Phlebology. In Germany, for example, about one in 1000 adults develops deep vein thrombosis for the first time every year. Overall, venous thrombosis manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. Are distinguished primarily on the basis of their place of origin.

multilevel thrombosis

Mostly blood clots form in the (deep) leg veins. If the thrombus is not recognized in time, the thrombosis may expand and the blood may begin to accumulate in the smaller collateral vessels. Eventually, further occlusion occurs in the lower leg, knee, and thigh. In this case, physicians speak of a 3-story thrombosis.

In acute cases, multi-level thrombosis spreads into the pelvis (pelvic vein thrombosis). In this case it is a 4-tier thrombosis.

Travel thrombosis

Sitting for long periods, for example in a cramped airplane, can cause the blood flow in the leg veins to slow down. Little fluid and the low humidity further reduce the flow rate. Blood collects in the lower legs. In this way, a blood clot can form and cause thrombosis. Affected persons then suffer from the so-called "travel thrombosis".

anal thrombosis, anal vein thrombosis, perianal thrombosis

In an anal thrombosis, a blood clot blocks a vein in or at the edge of the anus. The thrombosis form is usually triggered by thermal influences such as sitting on cold surfaces or muggy weather. In addition to pain in the affected area, a bluish lump under the hat at the edge of the anus is a sign of perianal thrombosis. In many cases, anal thrombosis resolves within days or a few weeks.

Thrombosis in the abdomen: portal vein thrombosis

The portal vein is the blood vessel that supplies the liver with blood from the intestines. When the portal vein becomes blocked or narrowed by a blood clot, there is increased blood prere in the vein. Thrombosis in the abdomen can result in an enlarged spleen, severe bleeding in the esophagus or fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Cerebral venous thrombosis is a special. Rare form of thrombosis. Oxygen-depleted blood is transported from the brain toward the heart via large venous blood vessels. In the case of a blockage caused by a blood clot, this blood outflow is disturbed. If the thrombus in the head is not dissolved in time, there is an increase in prere in the brain.

Cerebral vein thrombosis is characterized primarily by severe headaches. As a rule, the pain becomes more intense over time. Can also occur in the form of a thunderclap headache. Accompanying symptoms of cerebral venous thrombosis are, for example, nausea, epileptic seizures or neurological deficits such as speech disorders or paralysis. Possible causes of cerebral vein thrombosis include infection and blood clotting disorders.

In the course of Corona vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine, there have been increased reports of cerebral venous thrombosis as a result of vaccination. For AstraZeneca, thrombosis was identified as a side effect in a total of 175 cases, primarily cerebral vein thrombosis. (4)

Although headaches are a common reaction to vaccination, they are also considered the most common symptom of cerebral vein thrombosis. If the symptoms do not subside within a few days, they should be clarified with a doctor.

Causes of thrombosis: Development of a thrombus

The fact that a thrombus develops in one of the blood vessels can have various causes. Broadly speaking, three different causes can be identified for the development of thrombosis:

Disturbed blood flow: Blood cannot flow freely through the blood vessels because the blood vessel walls have damage or deposits, or because they are constricted from the outside, for example by tumors or scarring.
Slowed blood flow: The blood flows more slowly because the veins are dilated (varicose veins) or because the support provided by the muscles (muscle pump) is insufficient, for example after operations, in the case of paralysis, long immobility or lack of fluids – the blood becomes "thicker".
Increased tendency to clot: Blood clots faster than normal because blood clotting is impaired (i.e., increased), for example, due to genetic clotting disorders, autoimmune diseases, or cancer. The German pathologist Rudolph Virchow first described these three causes as essential factors for the development of thrombosis. Therefore, they are also known as the "Virchow triad". To be found in medical textbooks. (1)

Nonetheless, the site of origin of the thrombosis plays a crucial role here as well. Depending on whether you have arterial or venous thrombosis, different factors can interfere with blood flow:

Arteriosclerosis is often also referred to as vascular calcification. This refers to a change in the vascular walls of arteries. Blood components such as calcium, fat or connective tie can build up in vessel walls and constrict the affected artery. This disturbs the blood flow in the vessel, so that a thrombus or several thrombi can form. (5)

Thrombosis: Risk factors

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing thrombosis. In addition to an increased risk after outpatient surgery, for example, clotting disorders may also be hereditary. In addition, your lifestyle can negatively affect your vascular health. For example, lack of exercise or smoking can have negative effects. Usually, several risk factors come together before a blood clot develops in one of the blood vessels. (6)

Thrombosis: Higher risk in old age

The older we get, the greater our risk of developing thrombosis. Thrombosis is one of the typical diseases of old age. First, because deposits in the blood vessels, which promote the development of thromboses, become more likely with age. (5) On the other hand, because aging is often accompanied by less physical activity and a loss of muscle tone. As a result, blood transport by the veins is no longer optimally supported. Lying or sitting for long periods of time causes constriction of the blood vessels. Can also obstruct blood flow.

In addition, the connective tie becomes weaker with age. However, since it has an important supporting function for the blood vessels, the external prere on the veins also decreases with it. Varicose veins can form, so that the blood flow speed decreases.

Thrombosis after surgery

The wound and prolonged lying down as a result of surgery increases the risk of thrombosis. Patients are usually given the well-known anticoagulant heparin, which is supposed to reduce the risk of thrombosis.

Thrombosis Self-Test: Do you have an increased risk of developing thrombosis?

Thrombosis occurs most frequently in the deep veins of the legs and pelvis. If you feel tightness in the area, have pain similar to sore muscles, and notice skin changes, these may be signs of thrombosis.

Also ask yourself if you are susceptible to developing thrombosis. If you answer "yes" to most of the following questions, you may be at increased risk for thrombosis:

– Are you suffering from cancer? – Have you recently been or are you currently bedridden? – Do you have pain or hardening in your leg? – Have you noticed swelling on your leg? – Have a compressible edema (swelling) on the leg? – Have you ever suffered a deep vein thrombosis before? – Has your doctor been able to determine that you have a blood clotting tendency?

Aside from these points, older people, overweight people, smokers, and people with heart disease or diabetes are considered at risk for thrombosis. (1)


While an arterial thrombosis causes immediate pain that does not go away even at rest, some venous thromboses, on the other hand, can proceed almost painlessly (called "silent thromboses") and remain undetected for a long time. So, the symptoms of thrombosis can differ greatly from one another.

Depending on the size and location of the blood clot, these are the typical symptoms:

Typical symptoms, depending on the type, are:

Suspicion of thrombosis: Test / Diagnosis

If thrombosis is suspected, it is important to see the doctor in time. After an initial discussion and a clinical examination of the body, a blood test usually follows. Blood tests can provide initial indications of thrombosis. Because thrombi leave characteristic traces in the blood, the so-called D-dimers. If blood levels of D-dimers are elevated, vascular occlusion may be the cause.

For a reliable diagnosis of thrombosis, the physician usually examines the patient by means of ultrasound examination. Ultrasound (e.g., Doppler sonography) nowadays provides good visualization of what is happening in the vessels.

However, examinations are also carried out in the body itself by the doctor pushing catheters into the bloodstream (angiographies). This is also how thrombosis can be diagnosed.

If you experience pain and notice skin changes on your leg, you should always think about a possible thrombosis in your leg as well.

Although our body can produce heparin (anticoagulant) itself, i.e. it is able to dissolve clots, you should still consult a doctor if you have symptoms. Waiting is not an alternative here. In the worst case, the thrombus can break loose and be washed into the lungs with the bloodstream, for example, where it can trigger a pulmonary embolism.

Thrombosis stages: consequences / complications

Thromboses are difficult to divide into stages, since each course is quite individual and depends on various factors:

– If the blood clot was discovered early on? – Where the thrombus is located? How big is it? – If the patient suffers from other diseases? – How thrombosis is treated? – If the affected person has an increased risk of thrombosis?

For example, there are cases in which the thrombosis remains completely unnoticed in the initial stage and is only recognized due to its sequelae. Patients therefore ask themselves: "How dangerous is thrombosis??". 1. The thrombus constricts a vessel. Stops the blood supply to an organ or extremity. The thrombus constricts a vessel. Stops the blood supply to an organ or extremity. There is a risk of damage to the organ or death of an extremity. 2. A thrombus does not always remain in the place where it is formed. Thrombi in the leg veins in particular are often "carried along" by the bloodstream and continue to flow in the body. It is particularly critical if the thrombus passes through the heart and from there reaches the lungs. This can lead to a so-called pulmonary embolism.

The consequences of thrombosis in the heart (cardiac arrest), in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), or in the brain (stroke) can be fatal.

Consequence of thrombosis: postthrombotic syndrome

Post-thrombotic syndrome is also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and is one of the typical consequences of thrombosis. This is a chronic condition resulting from venous thrombosis. If deep vein thrombosis has damaged the vessel walls or venous valves, it can lead to permanent congestion in the blood vessel. This causes the veins to dilate. The valves in the veins can no longer close properly.

Post-thrombotic syndrome is characterized by fluid retention (edema), skin changes, and ulcers on the lower leg. The extent to which such a complication is pronounced depends on the previous thrombosis. Timely compression therapy at the affected site can reduce the severity of postthrombotic syndrome.

Treat thrombosis: Treatment& Therapy

Any thrombosis disease requires fast medical treatment. Even if the person is already ill with thrombosis, and if necessary has remedies for thrombosis at home, he should immediately consult a doctor. It is not advisable to treat a thrombosis yourself. In particular, in order to make a reliable diagnosis and to clarify the cause, a medical examination is required.

Based on his findings, the attending physician will discuss the three treatment options with the patient:

Medication: Thrombosis can be treated by administering drugs, for example anticoagulants, which reduce the size of the thrombus. At best, thrombosis can be resolved by taking heparin. Thrombosis medication can be administered as an infusion or injection (in the form of a so-called thrombosis syringe). Usually the thrombosis treatment is continued by the patient on an outpatient basis.
Prere: Compression bandages or compression stockings are usually also part of the thrombosis therapy. Compression therapy exerts prere on the veins so that the blood can flow more quickly. In addition, it is also used to relieve pain associated with thrombosis.
Operation: Thrombosis can also be treated by surgery. Various surgical interventions may be possible. For example, a catheter is used to capture and remove the thrombus directly in the bloodstream. Any treatment for thrombosis aims to dissolve the thrombus so that it cannot travel further and possibly reach vital organs (for example, the heart).

According to the German Society for Angiology, around 100 people die of thrombosis in Germany every year.000 people suffer from a pulmonary embolism. In many cases, thrombosis is the cause. Most deaths could be prevented if people knew the signs of thrombosis and had their thrombosis treated in time. (7)

Thrombosis treatment in the long term

Thrombosis is dangerous as long as it remains untreated. Once the clot is removed, the risk of thrombosis is also initially over. But the risk of a new blood clot may still exist. The approach of medicine is to reduce blood clotting in such a way that the platelets tend to clump together as little as possible. Therefore, in many cases, patients are given tablets that inhibit the clotting of the blood. These thrombosis medications can usually be prescribed over a long period of time (months or years) and should be taken consistently.

If you regularly take blood-thinning medication, this does not actually limit your life in any way. But you must always keep in mind that your blood will clot less well. So if you get injured, wounds may bleed more profusely and for longer, and bruises may develop more quickly. In addition, you should check with your doctor in good time before operations when you should stop taking the medication.

Dissolve thrombosis naturally?

There are a number of naturopathic substances that can help sufferers to treat a thrombosis naturally – but always in consultation with their family doctor or medical specialist! This is how garlic or onions are said to have a blood-thinning effect. Preparations from horse chestnut or comfrey can be used for tension-. Feelings of heaviness in the legs help.

Thrombosis prophylaxis: Targeted measures

Thromboprophylaxis must be used not only if the patient already has a thrombosis. In this case, an attempt is made to prevent serious consequences of the thrombosis by administering medication and compression therapy.

Thrombosis prophylaxis can be started much earlier. Then it includes various measures that people can take themselves to prevent the development of thrombosis. Thus, in many cases, the disease can be prevented by proper behavior.

Exercise / movement exercises

Regular exercise, even if it is only a daily walk, does a lot of good for blood circulation, among other things. Leg veins in particular depend on being supported by movement, by muscle tension and relaxation (muscle pump). (8) Standing, sitting, or lying down for long periods of time has a detrimental effect on the health of the leg veins.

Those who cannot move for a certain period of time, such as on long airplane trips, can put on compression stockings as a preventive measure. They ensure that the diameter of the veins is reduced and the blood flows faster due to their special prere-triggering tie.

Even if you are confined to bed for a longer period of time, such as after surgery, you can still do something to keep your veins healthy. In order to prevent thrombosis, movement exercises against thrombosis, which you can perform (with support) in bed, are suitable, for example. Such exercises can also be part of the care planning for bedridden persons.

Exercises for thrombosis prophylaxis, © pflege.en

Healthy lifestyle

In addition to exercise for thrombosis, a healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of thrombosis. Smoking, obesity, alcohol – all these are not good for the blood vessels.

Therefore: If you eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink enough fluids, you can prevent thrombosis. However, drinking sugary soda or alcohol is not recommended. Teas are better. Low sodium water. (9)

Frequently asked questions

What is a thrombosis?

In thrombosis, a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a blood vessel and prevents blood flow. Basically, thromboses are categorized according to where they occur in the body. Therefore, physicians distinguish between

– Venous thrombosis (occlusion of a vein) and – Arterial thrombosis (occlusion of an artery)

Although thrombi can form in all vessels, venous thrombosis is much more common than arterial thrombosis. Among venous thromboses, a large proportion occur in the pelvic and leg regions.

This can be caused by changes in the flow velocity or composition of the blood, as well as damage to the inner wall of the vessel. The risk of developing thrombosis increases with age.

What is a thrombus? The word comes from the Greek. Means translated clot or lump. Thrombus is the medical term for a blood clot. Thrombi occur when blood clots and forms a clot (thrombus). Blood clots in veins or arteries disrupt blood flow and are the cause of thrombosis.

What does a thrombosis look like?

Thromboses develop most frequently in the leg veins. These are characterized by swelling of the lower leg and thigh and a slightly bluish discoloration of the affected leg. In addition, the veins may protrude well below the surface of the skin.

What does thrombosis feel like?

An arterial thrombosis manifests itself in sudden pain at the affected site. With venous thrombosis, affected persons experience a feeling of heaviness and warmth of the extremity in addition to pain. You may also experience skin tightness and breathing difficulties.

What should you do in case of thrombosis?

If you feel the first signs of thrombosis, you should contact your doctor immediately. Although a thrombosis does not always have to lead to a stroke or heart attack, it should still be treated as quickly as possible. Here's how to prevent serious thrombosis complications and consequences. In the case of venous thrombosis, the following applies:

1. Elevate the limb. This allows the blood to flow back better. 2. Move the affected extremity as little as possible. 3. Do not cross your legs. This disturbs the blood flow. 4. Avoid exertion.

How to treat thrombosis?

To prevent the blood clot from reaching vital organs such as the lungs or heart, the goal of any treatment is to dissolve the thrombus. This can occur in three different ways:

Drug treatment: Anticoagulant thrombosis drugs should reduce the size of the thrombus. As a rule, patients receive the drug heparin. Heparin slows down the clotting tendency of the blood. Has proven to be very effective.
Prere therapy: This form of treatment is primarily intended for leg vein thrombosis. So-called compression stockings exert prere on the veins so that the blood can flow faster again.
Surgery: If medication and prere do not have any effect, the thrombus can also be removed surgically.

What to do about thrombosis?

There are various ways to treat or counteract thrombosis. Once diagnosed, thromboses can be treated either with medication or surgery. Especially in case of leg vein thrombosis, compression stockings can be helpful to avoid consequences and complications of thrombosis.

To reduce the risk of thrombosis disease from the outset, the following is recommended:

– Stay as active as possible. Exercise promotes blood circulation. – Wear compression stockings if necessary. – Make sure you eat a balanced diet. – Avoid obesity. Refrain from alcohol-. Cigarette consumption. – Drink enough fluids.

If there is an increased risk of thrombosis, for example due to prolonged lying down after an operation, prophylactic medication against thrombosis can also be used. The anticoagulant heparin is said to reduce the risk of developing thrombosis.

How long does a thrombosis last??

How long a thrombosis lasts depends on the individual and cannot be answered in a generalized way. Depending on the type, severity and previous illness, thrombosis can last weeks to months. In this process, special drugs are used to ensure that the clot does not continue to grow, but is instead broken down.

Is thrombosis curable?

With consistent thrombosis therapy, thromboses can be cured in many cases. The prerequisite is that the affected person acts quickly at the first suspicion and consults his doctor in good time. Measures can then be taken as quickly as possible to dissolve the thrombus and prevent the risk of life-threatening sequelae (e.g. pulmonary embolism).

How quickly a thrombosis resolves?

Drug therapy for thrombosis, for example in the form of anticoagulants, initially stops the growth of the clot. At best, the thrombosis dissolves. This process can last from a few weeks to months. The duration of therapy depends on the cause and extent of the thrombosis.

What is the duration of thrombosis?

How long a thrombosis lasts depends on various factors. Not only the size of the blood clot, but also the type of thrombosis and the patient's condition play a role here. In general, mild cases can heal within a few weeks, whereas severe cases (for example, varicose veins) can take months.

In addition, there are long-term consequences that can occur after thrombosis, such as post-thrombotic syndrome. In this case, the blood is permanently backed up due to damaged vessel walls or venous valves, so that the affected person suffers long-term discomfort.

How long is a thrombosis dangerous?

Thrombosis is dangerous as long as it remains untreated. Therefore, at the first sign of thrombosis, patients should consult a doctor. If a thrombosis is diagnosed and treated in time, complications and consequential damage usually do not occur. It becomes dangerous if the thrombosis is left untreated. The blood clot can detach from the vessel wall and travel to the lungs, for example, which can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

How long is there a risk of embolism with a thrombosis?

Embolism is one of the most dangerous consequences of thrombosis. In this way, it can happen that the blood clot separates from the vessel wall and enters the pulmonary circulation with the blood flow. There it can occlude the pulmonary vessels. Cause chest pain as well as shortness of breath. The danger of getting an embolism remains as long as the thrombosis remains untreated.

How long does a thrombosis in the calf last??

There is no general answer to this question. This depends, among other things, on how large the thrombus is, whether it is in a deep or superficial vein, and whether the affected person suffers from other diseases. The course and duration of thrombosis therefore always varies from patient to patient. Weeks or months may pass before (complete) healing takes place. Basically, a timely. Consistent treatment accelerates the healing process.

Can you get thrombosis despite blood thinners?

Blood thinners are the colloquial term for anticoagulants. Anticoagulant drugs do not completely eliminate the blood's ability to clot. Otherwise, patients would bleed to death if injured. Accordingly, it can not be ruled out that you can get a thrombosis despite anticoagulants.

Can you go to the sauna if you have a thrombosis?

No, you should avoid this. In the sauna, you lose a large amount of water through sweating. Lack of fluids can cause the blood to "thicken" and tend to form blood clots. Therefore you should absolutely refrain from going to the sauna.

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