Arterial thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in an artery. It is very dangerous as it can obstruct the flow of blood to major organs.
Depending on where the clot forms, arterial thrombosis can cause several serious conditions, including:
Heart attack and stroke are leading causes of death in the UK.
Most cases of arterial thrombosis are caused when an artery is damaged by atherosclerosis. This is where fatty deposits called plaque build up on the walls of the arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. If the plaque ruptures (bursts), a blood clot may develop.
You're at an increased risk of developing an arterial blood clot if you:
The risk of arterial thrombosis also increases with age, so older people are more commonly affected.
It is sometimes possible to treat arterial thrombosis with medication or surgery.
In some cases, a type of medication called a thrombolytic can be used to dissolve blood clots and restore the flow of blood in an artery. Examples of thrombolytic medicines include alteplase and reteplase.
These medicines are most effective if they are used as soon as possible after a heart attack or stroke starts.
Surgery for arterial thrombosis involves unblocking the affected artery or re-routing blood flow around the blockage. The type of surgery used will depend on the location and severity of your condition.
For example, you may need heart surgery if the blood clot is in an artery that supplies blood to your heart. Operations used to treat this include:
If you have a blood clot in your neck, you may have surgery called carotid endarterectomy. During this operation, the surgeon makes a cut in your neck to open up the artery and remove the fatty deposits.
It is not possible to prevent blood clots altogether, but there are a number of ways you can minimise your risk.
If you have previously had a blood clot, you may need to take medicines to reduce the risk of it happening again. These include:
You can also reduce your risk of developing arterial thrombosis and heart disease by:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.