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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Thromboembolism


Alternate Names : Thromboembolic State

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A thromboembolism is a blood clot that forms and then breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to another part of the body.

What is going on in the body?

When a person is cut or injured, the blood clots, or clumps together. This helps to stop the bleeding. Blood may sometimes clot when it is not supposed to, however. For example, a blood clot may form inside a blood vessel or the heart.

A thromboembolism occurs when a blood clot breaks off from where it has formed and travels through the bloodstream. Eventually, the blood clot will get trapped inside a blood vessel that is too small to let it pass. Blood is then unable to flow through this vessel. The lack of blood flow can damage the body parts that normally receive blood from this vessel.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

The blood clots that break off and form a thromboembolism can be caused by a number of disorders, including:

  • damage to the blood vessels or heart, which can occur from injury, surgery, infections, heart attacks, and other causes
  • poor blood circulation, which can occur from severe congestive heart failure, severe varicose veins, and certain irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmias
  • lack of activity, which can occur during any prolonged illness, surgery, travel, or injury
  • "thick" blood that has a tendency to form clots. This condition may occur due to cancer, certain medications, pregnancy, and some inherited conditions.


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    Thromboembolism: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Bill Harrison, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/01/01

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