Thrombosis: The culprit of blood clotting

1 in 4 people worldwide are dying from conditions caused by thrombosis! Thrombosis is a critical but preventable medical condition characterized by the formation of blood clots, causing a blockage in the normal flow of blood and oxygen. This condition can occur in arteries and veins, but it is more commonly observed in veins. When clots form in veins, it's called venous thrombosis. The two primary types are: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Clots typically form in the legs, causing pain and swelling. Superficial Venous Thrombosis (SVT): These clots are closer to the skin's surface and can cause pain, redness, and warmth in the affected area. Arterial Thrombosis: When clots form in arteries, it's referred to as arterial thrombosis. This can lead to serious conditions like heart attacks or strokes.

Manuela Băbuș
Medical Writer
Thrombosis: The culprit of blood clotting
source: <a href="">Image by mego-studio</a> on Freepik

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms within a deep vein, typically in the legs. This clot restricts the normal blood flow returning to the heart, leading to various symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area. If left untreated, DVT can escalate into severe complications, with the most critical being Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

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Risk Factors for Thrombosis

Several factors contribute to the development of thrombosis, including:

  • Age: Individuals over 60 years old are at a higher risk.
  • Medical Procedures: Recent surgery or hospitalization can increase susceptibility.
  • Pregnancy and Childbirth: These can elevate the risk, particularly in the postpartum period.
  • Medications: Certain drugs like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can play a role.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Prolonged periods of immobility, such as during long journeys, are risk factors.
  • Tobacco Use: Smoking or tobacco product consumption can contribute.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese can increase susceptibility.
  • Medical Conditions: Underlying conditions affecting clot formation can be a factor.
  • Genetics: Family history and inherited genetic mutations may predispose some individuals.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Skin Discoloration
  • Warmth

Preventive Measures

Taking proactive steps to prevent thrombosis is crucial, especially for those at risk. Here are some recommended measures:

  • Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity, including walking, to enhance blood circulation.
  • Avoid Prolonged Immobility: During long trips, make an effort to move and avoid extended sitting.
  • Compression Stockings: Consider using compression stockings to support healthy blood flow.
  • Quit Smoking: If you smoke, quitting can significantly reduce your risk.
  • Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise.
  • Medications: Follow your doctor's recommendations for preventive medications.
  • Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day.
  • Monitoring: Be vigilant for signs and symptoms, such as joint pain and swelling.
  • Stress Reduction: Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like yoga or meditation.
  • Consult with a Doctor: Discuss your risk factors and potential medical issues with your healthcare provider.

Early detection through medical assessments, which may include ultrasounds and pulmonary angiograms, can be essential in preventing complications associated with thrombosis.

If you suspect you are at risk due to family history or lifestyle factors, seek immediate medical attention to assess your condition and determine the appropriate preventive measures. Early intervention can significantly reduce the potential impact of thrombosis on your health.

What Is Superficial Venous Thrombosis?

Superficial Venous Thrombosis (SVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a superficial vein, typically just beneath the skin's surface. Unlike deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which affects deeper veins, SVT affects veins that are closer to the skin. These clots can obstruct the flow of blood and cause pain and swelling in the affected area.

Causes of Superficial Venous Thrombosis

Several factors can contribute to the development of SVT, including:

  • Injury or Trauma: Bruises or injury to a vein can trigger clot formation.
  • Varicose Veins: Enlarged and twisted veins can be more prone to clotting.
  • Surgery: Some surgical procedures can increase the risk of SVT.
  • Phlebitis: Inflammation of the veins can lead to clot formation.
  • Blood Disorders: Certain blood disorders may predispose individuals to SVT.

Symptoms of Superficial Venous Thrombosis

The signs and symptoms of SVT can vary but commonly include:

  • Pain and Tenderness: The affected area may feel painful or tender to the touch.
  • Redness and Warmth: The skin over the clot may appear red and feel warm.
  • Swelling: Swelling can occur in the area where the clot has formed.
  • Visible Veins: In some cases, you may see or feel a hardened, cord-like vein.

Treatment Options for SVT

Treatment for SVT aims to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and promote healing. Common approaches include:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Compression Therapy: Wearing compression stockings can improve blood flow and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keeping the affected limb elevated can reduce swelling.
  • Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses may alleviate discomfort.
  • Anticoagulant medication: Your doctor may prescribe anticoagulant medications to prevent clot growth.

Preventive Measures

While SVT can occur spontaneously, you can reduce your risk by taking some preventive measures:

  • Stay Active: Regular exercise helps maintain healthy blood flow.
  • Avoid Prolonged Immobility: If you're sedentary for long periods, take breaks to move around.
  • Compression Stockings: If you have varicose veins, wearing compression stockings can be beneficial.
  • Hydration: Drinking enough water supports overall circulation.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a balanced diet and avoid smoking.

If you suspect you have SVT or experience any of the symptoms mentioned, it's crucial to consult a doctor! 

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Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a serious but preventable medical condition where a blood clot forms in one part of the body (usually the legs or pelvis) and travels to the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, it can block one of the pulmonary arteries, causing a sudden disruption in blood flow. PE can be life-threatening, so understanding its causes, symptoms, and management is essential.

Causes of Pulmonary Embolism

The primary cause of PE is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, typically in the legs. This clot can break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism. 

However, you can have a PE without any symptoms of a DVT!

Factors that increase the risk of DVT and, subsequently, PE, include:

  • Prolonged immobility (such as long flights or bed rest after surgery)
  • Recent surgery or injury
  • Certain medical conditions (like cancer)
  • Hormonal birth control methods
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of blood clots

Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

PE symptoms can vary widely in severity. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (often worsened by deep breaths)
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Coughing, sometimes with blood
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Leg swelling or pain 

It's important to note that not everyone with PE experiences all of these symptoms, and they can overlap with other conditions. 

If you suspect PE, seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing PE often involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Common tests include:

  • CT Pulmonary Angiography: A specialized CT scan that can detect blood clots in the lungs.
  • D-Dimer Test: A blood test that measures the presence of clot-dissolving substances.
  • Ultrasound: To check for DVT in the legs.

If PE is confirmed, treatment aims to prevent the clot from getting larger and to keep new clots from forming. Typical treatments include:

  • Anticoagulant Medications: Blood thinners to prevent further clotting.
  • Clot-Dissolving Medications: In severe cases, clot-dissolving drugs may be used.
  • Inferior Vena Cava Filter: A device that can catch clots before they reach the lungs (rarely used).

Recovery and Prevention

Recovery from PE can vary from person to person but often involves medications for several months or longer. Lifestyle changes can also help prevent future clots:

  • Stay active and avoid prolonged immobility.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow yourdoctor's recommendations regarding medications.
  • Notify your doctor if you're planning long trips or surgeries.


Pulmonary embolism is a serious medical condition that requires prompt attention. By understanding its causes, recognizing its symptoms, and following your doctor's guidance, you can manage PE and reduce the risk of future clotting episodes. If you have any concerns or suspect you may have PE, don't hesitate to seek medical help, as early intervention can be life-saving.

In the U.S. and Europe, VTE-related events kill more people than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined

Knowing the signs and symptoms of thrombosis could save your life!

Article Citations & Bibliography
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Venous Thromboembolism ( Accessed 10/13/2023.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is Venous Thromboembolism? ( Accessed 10/13/2023.
  • Weber J. Venous Thromboembolic Disease. J Am Osteopath Coll Radiol. 2014;3(3):2-7.
  • National Blood Clot Alliance. How is DVT diagnosed? ( Accessed 10/13/2023.
  • National Blood Clot Alliance. How is PE diagnosed? ( Accessed 10/13/2023.
  • 10/13/2023 

Please note that the information provided on this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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Manuela Băbuș.
Medical Writer