Is Thrombosis the Same as Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Blood clots (gel-like aggregates of blood cells and protein) obstruct your blood vessels, causing thrombosis.

The formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel is called thrombosis. A blood clot develops and plugs a vein or an artery, blocking or reducing blood flow. A blood clot can form anywhere in the bloodstream.

Thrombosis is broadly classified as either venous or arterial thrombosis depending on whether the thrombus is in the artery or vein. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a kind of venous thrombosis that develops in the deep veins of the legs, pelvis, or arms.

How do I know if I have thrombosis?

Blood clots (gel-like aggregates of blood cells and protein) obstruct your blood vessels, causing thrombosis. A thrombus may not cause any symptoms particularly when it is small or does not cause significant blockage to blood flow.

Symptoms vary based on the size and location of the clot.

6 common signs and symptoms of thrombosis

  1. Abrupt chest pain or shortness of breath
  2. Swelling in one arm or leg
  3. Redness is one arm or leg
  4. Sudden change in mental state
  5. Numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  6. Pain in the affected limb (usually the calf or inner thigh)

Thrombosis symptoms might mimic those of other blood illnesses or health issues. Hence, it is always recommended to see your doctor if you have symptoms.

7 possible causes and risk factors of thrombosis

  1. Major surgery
  2. Hospitalization
  3. Immobility
  4. Medicines that increase your risk for clotting (birth control, hormone therapy drugs, and others)
  5. Autoimmune conditions
  6. Cancer
  7. Obesity

5 types of investigations to diagnose thrombosis

Depending on your medical history, signs and symptoms, and risk factors, the doctor may recommend investigations to diagnose thrombosis.

  1. Complete blood picture
  2. Ultrasound
  3. Computed tomography angiography
  4. Magnetic resonance angiography
  5. Venography (A dye is injected into the veins, which makes them easier to see on X-rays. X-rays are taken to show blood flow and look for clots.)

Depending on your lab results, the doctor may diagnose and prepare you for the treatment.

2 types of thrombosis

  1. Venous thrombosis: May be caused by
    • An injury or disease of the veins
    • Fracture
    • Obesity
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Certain medications
    • Certain inherited conditions
    • Autoimmune disorders
  2. Arterial thrombosis: Could be caused by a hardening of the arteries called atherosclerosis.
    • This form of thrombosis occurs when fatty or calcium deposits in the artery walls cause them to harden, resulting in a build-up of fatty plaque.
    • When this plaque ruptures, a clot develops. When arterial thrombosis occurs in the arteries that feed blood to the heart, it can cause a blockage and result in a heart attack.
    • A brain attack or stroke can be caused by an arterial thrombosis or a clot in the arteries of the brain.


Spider & Varicose Veins: Causes, Before and After Treatment Images See Slideshow

7 main types of venous thrombi

  1. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
    • The most common type of thrombosis causes serious complications. A blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg or pelvis and rarely, in the arms.
    • If the thrombus fragments form an embolism, it travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it frequently causes pulmonary embolism.
    • Typical signs of a deep vein thrombosis include:
      • Pain
      • Swelling
      • Redness in the legs
      • Changes in skin color
    • If these symptoms are present and DVT is suspected, assessment and management should begin as soon as possible to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism.
  2. Portal vein thrombosis
  3. Renal vein thrombosis
    • A thrombus can obstruct the renal vein, resulting in decreased kidney drainage.
    • Renal vein thrombosis is a type of thrombosis that is common in patients with nephrotic syndrome.
  4. Jugular vein thrombosis
    • Thrombosis of the jugular vein is a rare kind of venous thrombosis that is mainly caused by intravenous drug usage but can be caused by infection or cancer.
    • This form of thrombosis can lead to significant consequences, such as sepsis, pulmonary embolism, and papilledema.
  5. Budd-Chiari syndrome
    • Budd-Chiari syndrome produces hepatic vein blockage and blood outflow from the liver.
    • It is rare. However, symptoms, such as stomach discomfort, ascites, and hepatomegaly, can help identify it.
  6. Paget-Schroetter disease or effort thrombosis
    • Thrombosis occurs in an upper extremity vein, such as the axillary or subclavian veins.
    • Frequently affects physically active persons and manifests itself shortly following or during high-intensity activity.
  7. Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis
    • A cerebral venous sinus thrombosis is an uncommon kind of stroke caused by a thrombus in the brain's venous pathways.
    • Most patients recover completely. Nevertheless, a stroke requires proper therapy to facilitate good recovery.
    • Symptoms may include:
      • Headache
      • Altered vision
      • difficulties speaking and moving the face and arm muscles

2 main types of arterial thrombi

  1. Thrombotic stroke
    • A thrombotic stroke is a kind of arterial thrombosis that results in a blockage of an artery, which supplies blood and oxygen to the brain.
    • Because of the steady buildup of the thrombus and the rising blockage, thrombotic stroke generally manifests more gradually than other forms of stroke, such as hemorrhagic stroke.
  2. Myocardial infarction
    • A myocardial infarction can occur for a variety of reasons although it is mostly caused by arterial thrombosis in the coronary artery.
    • This has the potential to be deadly, and quick medical intervention is required to address the source and prevent damage to the heart muscle cells.

Based on certain factors, such as age, overall health, and medical history and type of thrombi, your doctor will create a treatment plan.

3 treatment options for thrombosis

  1. Blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants)
  2. Thin tubes (catheters) to widen the affected blood vessels
  3. A wire mesh tube (stent) that holds a blood vessel open and stops it from closing

10 ways to prevent a thrombosis

You can reduce your chance of acquiring thrombosis by doing the following steps:

  1. Consult your doctor if you are concerned or exhibit signs of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, especially if you are on birth control, hormone replacement treatment, pregnant, or have recently given birth.
  2. During hospital stays and long travels, see your doctor about medicine or compression stockings.
  3. Keep a healthy weight.
  4. Stay active and exercise regularly.
  5. Avoid long periods of inactivity by walking about or stretching regularly.
  6. If you are unable to walk, stretch, and practice easy leg and foot exercises.
  7. On long travels, make frequent stops (every two hours or so) to walk for a short time
  8. Keep yourself hydrated
  9. Wear loose-fitting clothes when traveling
  10. Avoid stress by engaging in stress-relieving activities, such as meditation or breathing exercises

Complications of thrombosis

Thrombosis is a very serious condition that accounts for one in every four fatalities globally. This is because thrombosis can lead to life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism

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Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022
Image Source: iStock image

North American Thrombosis Forum. What is Thrombosis?

Ashorobi D, Ameer MA, Fernandez R. Thrombosis. [Updated 2022 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

WebMD. Types of Thrombosis.