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What You Need to Know About Thrombosis

Thrombosis_formationThrombosis is a poorly understood condition that can have a major health impact, so it is important to know the basics. When there is an injury to a blood vessel, the body forms a blood clot to stop the loss of blood. To do this, the body uses platelets (also called thrombocytes) and fibrin. Sometimes the body forms blood clots even when there is no known injury, which reduces or blocks of the flow of blood through the body into the areas they serve. Thrombosis is the name of the process of formation of a blood clot inside a vessel. You have undoubtedly heard of an embolism. When one of these clots breaks free and starts to travel through the body, it becomes known as an embolus.

When the thrombus is a large one it can partially block blood flow into tissue. This creates hypoxia, a lack of sufficient oxygen. Then metabolic products such as lactic acid accumulate. If the thrombus causes a complete obstruction of blood flow, the result may be anoxia, a complete lack of oxygen, which results of the death of the affected organ or tissue.

Thrombosis can be caused by:

Hypercoagulability (thrombophilia): higher levels of coagulation factors in the blood, often as a result of genetics or disorders of the immune system
Injury to the endothelial cells of the blood vessel wall: often subsequent to trauma, surgery and/or infection
Abnormal flow of the blood: venous stasis following heart failure or long periods of sedentary behavior

The types of thrombosis are:

Venous Thrombosis: thrombosis in the vein
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): The blood clot formation from this type of thrombosis occurs deep within the vein and generally affects the leg vein. The clot goes through the vein and cannot be seen through the skin. Most common sites are teh calf, pelvis and thigh. This frequently presents as pain, swelling and tenderness in one of your legs and warm skin over the area of the clot.
Portal Vein Thrombosis: hepatic portal vein that may lead to decrease blood flow in the liver
Renal Vein Thrombosis: thrombus is formed in the vein that drains blood in the kidney
Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis: forms in the veins of the brain and can lead to stroke
Jugular Vein Thrombosis: seen mostly in hospitalized patient due to intravenous intervention, infection and malignancy.
Arterial Thrombosis: thrombosis in the artery
Stroke: thrombosis in the brain arteries causing a rapid decline in the brain function
Myocardial Infarction (heart attack): thrombus in the heart vessels causing necrosis of the heart muscle

Among the primary risk factors for thrombosis are cigarette smoking, being overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle. To protect yourself, stop smoking, diet and exercise regularly, and use compression stockings (particularly when flying). Anticoagulants, while they can increase bleeding risks, have proven helpful in the prevention and treatment of thrombosis.

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