In this article, I will try to answer some frequently asked questions about thrombosis. What I have realized in my research is that although the knowledge about it abounds, many are doubts, and misinformation on the subject matter.
In my last article on the subject matter, I shared with you the topic its definition, causes, and type, and I promised to come up with further insights on the subject matter of thrombosis.
Let’s read about some pertinent frequently asked questions.
What is thrombosis?
It is said to have happened when 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, medical professionals differentiate between
- Vein thrombosis (occlusion of a vein) and
- Arterial thrombosis (occlusion of a carotid artery)
What is occlusion?
Occlusion means “the blockage or closing of a blood vessel or hollow organ”Oxford dictionary
Although thrombi can form in all vessels, venous thromboses are significantly more common than arterial thromboses. Most venous thrombosis occurs in the pelvic and leg area.
The cause can be due to changes in the flow rate, or the composition of the blood as well as damage to the inner wall of the blood vessels. The risk of developing thrombosis increases with age.
What is a thrombus?
The word comes from the Greek language, and when translated means a plug or a lump. Thrombus is the medical term for a blood clot. Thrombi occurs when the blood clots and forms a clot (thrombus). Blood clots in veins or arteries disrupt the blood flow and trigger thrombosis.
What is the rate of blood clots in the general population?
- Although the exact number of persons afflicted by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) is unknown, it is estimated that up to 900,000 people (1 to 2 per 1,000) are impacted in the United States each year.
- DVT/PE is estimated to kill 60,000-100,000 Americans per year (also called venous thromboembolism).
- Between 10% and 30% of persons will die within one month of being diagnosed.
- In nearly one-quarter (25 percent) of persons who develop a PE, the initial sign is sudden death.
- One-third to one-half of persons who have had a DVT will have long-term consequences (post-thrombotic syndrome) such as edema, discomfort, discolouration, and scaling in the affected leg.
- One-third (about 33%) of persons with DVT/PE will experience a recurrence within 10 years.
- About 5 to 8% of the population in the United States has one of several genetic risk factors, commonly known as hereditary thrombophilias, in which a genetic flaw can be found that raises the risk of thrombosis.
Does a thrombosis hurt?
It differs from case to case. Some thromboses run completely without symptoms so that those affected do not even notice that a thrombus has formed in one of their blood vessels. Nevertheless, pain is one of the typical symptoms of all forms of thrombosis. While arterial thrombosis is more likely to cause sudden pain, venous thrombosis causes pulling pain (like sore muscles) that gets worse over time.
What does a thrombosis feel like?
Arterial thrombosis manifests itself as sudden pain in the affected area. In the case of venous thrombosis, those affected experience pain and a feeling of heaviness and warmth in the extremities. The skin may also become tight and one may have difficulty breathing.
What does thrombosis look like?
Most often, thrombosis develops in the leg veins. These are characterized by swellings on the lower and upper thighs and a slightly bluish or darkened, depending on your skin color, discoloration of the affected leg. It can also happen that the veins protrude well below the surface of the skin.
What should you do with thrombosis?
If you feel the first signs of a thrombosis, you should contact your doctor immediately. Thrombosis does not always have to lead to a stroke or heart attack, but it should still be treated as soon as possible. In this way, serious thrombosis complications and consequences can be prevented. In the case of venous thrombosis:
- Elevate the extremity. This way the blood can flow back better.
- Move the affected limb as little as possible.
- Do not cross your legs. That disrupts the blood flow.
- Avoid exertion.
How is thrombosis treated?
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 be done in three different ways:
- Drug treatment: Anticoagulant thrombosis drugs are intended to shrink the thrombus. Usually, patients are given the drug heparin. Heparin slows the blood’s tendency to clot and has proven to be very effective.
- Pressure therapy: This form of treatment is primarily intended for leg vein thrombosis. So-called compression stockings exert pressure on the veins so that the blood can flow faster again.
- Surgery: If medication and exertion of pressure do not have any effect, the thrombus can also be surgically removed.
What can be done against thrombosis?
There are different ways to treat or counteract thrombosis. After diagnosis, thromboses can be treated either with drugs or surgically. Compression stumps can be particularly helpful in the case of leg vein thrombosis in order to avoid the consequences and complications of the thrombosis.
In order to reduce the risk of thrombosis from the outset, the following are recommended:
- Avoid being overweight.
- Stay active as much as possible, for exercise promotes blood circulation.
- Drink enough fluids.
- If necessary, wear compression stockings.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol and cigarettes.
If there is an increased risk of thrombosis, such as lying down for a long time after an operation, prophylactic drugs (A prophylactic is a medication or a treatment designed and used to prevent a disease from occurring) 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 is individual and cannot be answered across the board. Depending on the type, severity, and previous illness, the 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 broken down.
Can Thrombosis Be Cured?
With consistent thrombosis therapy, thromboses can be cured in many cases. The prerequisite is that the person concerned 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 to prevent the risk of a life-threatening sequel (e.g. pulmonary embolism).
How quickly does a thrombosis resolve?
A drug-based thrombosis therapy, for example in the form of anticoagulants, initially stops the clot from growing. At best, the thrombosis resolves. This process can take a few weeks to months. The duration of therapy depends on the cause and extent of the thrombosis.
What is anticoagulants?
A substance that is used to prevent and treat blood clots in blood vessels and the heart. Also called a blood thinner.cancer.gov
How long is the duration of a 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. Basically, lighter cases can heal within a few weeks, whereas severe cases (for example with varicose veins) can take months.
There are also long-term consequences that can occur after a thrombosis, such as post-thrombotic syndrome. In this case, the blood builds up permanently due to damaged vessel walls or venous valves, so that the person concerned suffers long-term symptoms.
How long is there a risk of embolism in the event of a thrombosis?
An embolism is one of the most dangerous consequences of thrombosis. It can happen that the blood clot separates from the vessel wall and gets into the pulmonary circulation with the bloodstream. There it can block the pulmonary vessels and cause chest pain and shortness of breath. The risk of developing an embolism remains as long as the thrombosis is left untreated.
How long is thrombosis dangerous?
It is dangerous as long as it is left untreated. Therefore, the following applies:
At the first signs, those affected should definitely consult a doctor. If thrombosis is diagnosed and treated in good time, there are usually no complications and consequential damage. It becomes dangerous if the thrombosis is left untreated. In this way, the blood clot can detach itself from the vessel wall and get into the lungs, for example, which can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
How long does thrombosis in the calf last?
There is no general answer to that. This depends, among other things, on the size of the thrombus, whether it is in a deep or superficial vein and whether the person concerned suffers from other diseases. The course and duration of a thrombosis therefore always differ from patient to patient. Weeks or months can pass until the (complete) healing. In principle, timely and consistent treatment can accelerate the healing process.
Can you get thrombosis despite blood thinners?
Blood thinners are the slang term for anticoagulants. Anticoagulant drugs do not completely switch off the blood’s ability to clot. Otherwise, patients would bleed to death in the event of an injury. Accordingly, it cannot be ruled out that one can get a thrombosis despite an anticoagulant.
Can you use the sauna if you have thrombosis?
No, you should avoid that. In the sauna, you lose a large amount of water through sweating. Lack of fluids can make the blood “thick” and tend to form blood clots. Therefore, you should definitely avoid going to the sauna.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- German Society for Phlebology
- North American Thrombosis Forum
- Germany Federal Association for Health Information and Consumer Protection –