Heart & Cardiovascular

Thromboembolism: What are its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment?

By S.I. (staff writer) , published on March 26, 2023

Medicine Telehealth Health clotting bleeding

What is Thromboembolism?

Thromboembolism is a medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in an artery or vein and then dislodges and travels to another body part. It commonly occurs in veins and is called venous thromboembolism [1].


There are two types of thromboembolism. One is deep vein thromboembolism (DVT) which usually occurs in the deep veins of the legs. In contrast, the other one is called pulmonary embolism, which affects the lungs [2].


Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of serious complications and improve the outcome. It is important to seek medical advice if you are concerned about your risk of thromboembolism.



What are the Symptoms of Thromboembolism?

The most common symptoms of thromboembolism include [3]:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • tender legs
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden weakness
  • numbness on one side of the body
  • sweating.


Other symptoms may include coughing up blood, confusion, anxiety, and feeling of impending doom. In some cases, a person may experience pain, swelling, or tenderness in the legs, as well as discoloration of the skin.



What are the Causes of Thromboembolism?

The most common causes of thromboembolism are physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, certain medications, and certain medical conditions.


Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of developing a blood clot. Obesity can put extra pressure on the veins, resulting in slower blood flow and an increased risk of clot formation.


Smoking also increases the risk as nicotine causes the blood to become thicker and more prone to clotting. The absence of body proteins like Protein S, Protein C, and anti-thrombin can also increase the risks of DVT [4].


Medications and medical conditions can also increase the risk of thromboembolism. These include cancer, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, and anticoagulants. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are at higher risk.


Reducing the risk of thromboembolism is important by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing existing medical conditions.



Treatment Options for Thromboembolism:

Thromboembolism is a serious medical condition that requires prompt and effective treatment. This varies depending on the type and severity of the condition.


Generally, they include anticoagulants, thrombolytics, and surgery [5]. Anticoagulants, such as heparin and warfarin, work to prevent blood clots from forming or growing. This can help reduce the risk of potentially dangerous complications, such as a pulmonary embolism. Thrombolytics are medications that dissolve existing clots.


Surgery may be recommended in some cases when an artery is blocked by a large clot that cannot be dissolved with medications.






1- Venous Thromboembolism - What Is Venous Thromboembolism? | NHLBI, NIH

2- https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/node/126803

3- Venous Thromboembolism - Symptoms | NHLBI, NIH

4- The Pathogenesis of Venous Thromboembolism: Evidence for Multiple Interrelated Causes | Annals of Internal Medicine (acpjournals.org)

5- Venous Thromboembolism - Treatment | NHLBI, NIH

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