Symptoms and risks of arterial thrombosis

A blood clot doesn't usually have any symptoms until it blocks the flow of blood to part of the body.

This can cause several serious problems, including:

  • a heart attack – when blood flow to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, causing chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness
  • a stroke – when blood flow to the brain is cut off; the main symptoms are the face dropping on one side, weakness in one arm and slurred speech
  • a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke" – when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked, causing short-lived stroke symptoms
  • critical limb ischaemia – when the blood supply to a limb is blocked, causing it to become painful, discoloured (either pale or blue) and cold

These conditions are all medical emergencies. Get medical help straight away if you or someone in your care is experiencing these symptoms.

The thrombus may block:

  1. An artery in the heart and cause an infarction of the myocardis (heart attack).
  2. A blood vessel in the brain and cause a cerebral ischemia (brain thrombosis)
  3. A random blood vessel at any given organ and cause a major disorder
  4. The thrombus may form in the peripheral arteries of the legs or hands (vascular peripheral disease) and block normal blood circulation in the surrounding tissue.


Risk factors for developing arterial thrombosis

In general, in the majority of cases, the arterial walls become damaged by atherosclerosis. Fats are deposited in the form of plaques on the inner walls of the arteries, therefore narrowing the lumen of arteries.

There are several risk factors which may lead to atherosclerosis:

  1. Overconsumption of harmful fats as part of one’s daily diet
  2. Smoking
  3. Chronic consumption of alcohol
  4. Obesity
  5. Lack of physical activity
  6. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  7. Arterial hypertension
  8. Disorders of the metabolism of fats.

The risk to develop atherosclerosis increases with age.

Reduce your risk of arterial thrombosis

It's not possible to prevent blood clots entirely, but you can reduce your risk by lowering your risk of atherosclerosis.

The main things you can do are:

  • stop smoking
  • have a healthy diet
  • exercise regularly
  • maintain a healthy weight – read advice about losing weight
  • cut down on your alcohol consumption

If you're at a high risk of getting a blood clot, your doctor may also recommend taking medication such as:

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 2 Feb 2018