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Arterial thrombosis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About arterial thrombosis

Arterial thrombosis is a blood clot in a blood vessel called the artery which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other body organs. It is a significant pathological condition which may result in potentially life threatening problems.

Arterial thrombosis: Incidence, age and sex

Arterial thrombosis mainly occurs in middle aged or aged individuals. Older individuals are more commonly afflicted with this condition. It may be seen in young adults in rare instances. Men are more predisposed to arterial thrombosis as compared with women.

Signs and symptoms of arterial thrombosis: Diagnosis

Arterial thrombus may affect the arteries supplying heart, brain and lower limbs. If coronary arteries supplying the heart get affected, it may lead to angina/chest pain or in severe cases heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. If thrombus occurs in the arteries supplying the brain, then it may hamper the functions of brain, thereby leading to a stroke. Sometimes lower limbs may be involved if arterial thrombus affects arteries of lower limbs. This is called peripheral vascular disorder which may be seen more frequently in smokers. It is characterised by pain in calf muscles especially on walking or climbing stairs which is relieved on rest.

Causes and prevention of arterial thrombosis

Arterial thrombosis occurs as a part of atherosclerosis process in which arterial wall becomes thick and rigid with constricting lumen due to deposition of fatty substance called ‘atheroma’ in the arterial wall. This atheroma may rupture leading to blood clotting around it. This blood clot may remain attached to the arterial wall and is termed as ‘thrombus’. When this thrombus detaches itself from arterial wall and moves freely in its lumen, it is called ‘embolus’. Several risk factor may trigger this event of thrombus formation in arteries, of which aging and family history are most common. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, emotional stress and smoking.

Following are some preventive measures which may help in stopping the development or progression of this pathogenic process:

  • Maintain adequate weight
  • Physical exercises- Daily physical exercises like running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming or aerobic are helpful.
  • Appropriate dietary habits- It helps not only in shedding excess weight but also reduces blood cholesterol and lipids. Low salt along with low fat diet is advisable. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is healthy.
  • Cessation of smoking- Immediate benefit occurs on stopping smoking. Risk of heart disease and stroke may reduce drastically.

Arterial thrombosis: Complications

The complications of arterial thrombus depend upon the organ affected. In case of heart, patient may have irregular heart beats or in severe instances heart failure which may end in death, if not managed promptly. Involvement of brain causes stroke which results in weakening of limbs and speech impairment. Moreover complete block of lower limb artery by arterial thrombus may result in irreversible damage to the limbs called gangrene.

Arterial thrombosis: Treatment

The treatment includes certain medications like anti hypertensives for controlling high blood pressure. Lipid lowering drugs are recommended in individuals with abnormal values of lipids in blood tests. Some medications which inhibit clot formation or resolve the existing clot are vital to the treatment of arterial thrombus. Surgical intervention may be needed in cases where heart is affected. Surgical measures like cardiac angioplasty or by pass grafting are useful in instances of extensive blockage of coronary arteries.