Thromboembolism: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Thromboembolism is a condition that occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) breaks away from its point of origin (usually the veins or valves of the heart) and travels through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. This blood clot can become lodged in an artery and cause blockages that can lead to a stroke, heart attack, or other serious health conditions. The risk of developing a thromboembolism increases with age, certain lifestyle factors, and medical conditions.

Causes of Thromboembolism

Thromboembolism can be caused by a number of factors, such as:

  • Inactivity - Prolonged periods of sitting or lying down can cause the blood to become stagnant and form clots
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes and use of certain birth control medications
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Thromboembolism

The most common symptom of thromboembolism is pain in the affected area. This pain can be sharp and stabbing or a dull ache and may be accompanied by swelling, redness, warmth, or numbness. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid heart rate.

Treatment of Thromboembolism

Treatment for thromboembolism depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. In mild cases, treatment may involve pain relief medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners) to reduce clotting, and lifestyle modifications (such as exercise and a healthy diet). More serious cases might require surgery to remove the clot or other interventions to restore normal blood flow. In either case, your doctor will discuss the treatment best suited to your individual needs.

Preventing Thromboembolism

In order to reduce your risk of developing a thromboembolism, be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and abstinence from the use of tobacco products. It is also important to get regular medical check-ups and follow your doctor’s instructions for managing any existing medical conditions.