Arterial thrombosis means that a blood clot has formed in an artery. If blood flow is blocked to a vital organ like the heart or brain, this condition can be fatal.

Blood clots can form throughout the body, but when they’re located in an artery, you may be diagnosed with arterial thrombosis.

You may not be unaware that you have arterial thrombosis until blood flow is cut off to a part of your body. If arterial thrombosis prevents blood from getting to a vital organ, it can be fatal.

Arterial thrombosis means a blood clot has formed in an artery.

Arteries are the blood vessels responsible for taking blood filled with oxygen from the heart to other parts of the body. (Veins are the blood vessels responsible for bringing the blood back to the heart.) Clots can form in any of the many arteries and veins throughout the body.

Arterial thrombosis is a serious condition. It can be fatal if blood flow to organs such as the heart, lungs, or brain is cut off.

You may experience no symptoms from arterial thrombosis until blood flow is blocked to a portion of the body.

When blood flow is blocked to a portion of the body, a process called ischemia, you may experience:

The exact symptoms you experience will vary depending on where the blood clot is impeding blood flow, but some symptoms you may experience include:

  • numbness in a portion of the body
  • headaches
  • chest pain
  • trouble breathing
  • difficulty moving a limb
  • dizziness
  • abdominal pain

People who experience arterial thrombosis often have fatty deposits lining artery walls and clogging the vessels. This is called atherosclerosis, and it causes arteries to narrow and harden, increasing the risk of a blood clot.

You are more likely to experience atherosclerosis and arterial thrombosis if you:

  • smoke
  • drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • live with obesity
  • are sedentary, or immobile, for long periods of time

A family history of atherosclerosis and a personal history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol can also increase your chances of developing arterial thrombosis.

Thrombosis can be differentiated by the location of the blood clot in the body. Here are several different forms of thrombosis.

An embolism is a related term for when a blood clot has formed in one part of the body and traveled to a different location. For example, a pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot has traveled to the lungs.

If your doctor suspects you have a blood clot, they can use imaging tests to get a better idea of how blood is passing through the arteries. They may order an ultrasound, electrocardiogram, or angiogram for this.

If your doctor believes that you have experienced a heart attack, they may order a blood test to look for troponin. This test can help confirm a heart attack because troponin is released when a heart attack damages heart muscle.

When arterial thrombosis is suspected to have caused a stroke, your doctor may order a brain MRI or CT scan.

Treatment for arterial thrombosis may include medications and surgery.

Different procedures to treat a blood clot can involve:

  • removal of the clot
  • widening the artery
  • surgery to divert blood around a blocked artery
  • procedure to place a stent to restore blood flow

Strong blood thinner medications called thrombolytics can help to dissolve a clot quickly, but they can also cause dangerous bleeding and are not appropriate in all situations.

Your doctor may recommend that you continue to take medications after a clot dissolves to prevent clots from forming in the future.

If you have atherosclerosis, a stroke, or a heart attack related to your arterial thrombosis, continuing treatments to address this will likely be necessary.

A healthcare professional will also recommend treating any other underlying causes like atrial fibrillation to help prevent future occurrences of arterial thrombosis.

Acute venous and arterial thromboses are the most common cause of death.

Your personal outlook with arterial thrombosis depends on the extent and exact location of any blood clots. You can reduce your risk for arterial thrombosis by:

Arterial thrombosis means that you have a blood clot in one of your arteries. It can be fatal if the blood clot cuts off blood flow to organs like the heart or brain. You can help reduce your risk of arterial thrombosis by staying physically active, eating nutritious foods, and avoiding smoking.

You may not realize that you have this condition until blood flow is cut off to a portion of the body.

It’s important to let your doctor know if you have a family history of arterial thrombosis or have other risk factors. Medications and surgery can treat blood clots that form in arteries.

If you have questions about arterial thrombosis, you can talk with a healthcare professional.