By | June 10, 2022

A thromboembolism causes blood clots to form in the veins, usually in the legs. If these clumps break loose, they can lead to life-threatening narrowing of the blood vessels in the lungs.

What is thromboembolism?

Thromboembolism is a condition that causes a blood clot to form in one or more veins in the body; mostly in the legs. The thromboembolism can cause pain in the legs, but usually also causes other symptoms. For what does apv stand for, please visit

Thromboembolism can be caused by staying in a single sitting or lying position for a long time, such as in a car or airplane. Or by another disease that affects the clotting of the blood.

Thromboembolism is a serious illness. The clot that has formed in the veins can suddenly break loose and “shoot” through the bloodstream to the lungs ; This can then lead to dangerous narrowing of the blood flow.


A thromboembolism can be favored by many circumstances. This includes all factors that influence the coagulation of the blood. Muscle contraction promotes blood flow throughout the body.

On longer journeys, for example, the legs are often not moved for hours. The risk of a clot increases significantly here. People with increased clotting are also more likely to develop a thromboembolism. Your predisposition only becomes a problem when other negative factors are added.

Long stays in hospital, e.g. after an operation, also increase the risk. During pregnancy, the pressure on the leg veins increases, which also increases the risk. In people with heart problems, blood may not be pumped effectively through the veins, which can lead to easier clotting.

The same applies to obesity, smoking and old age. The risk of thromboembolism increases significantly from the age of 60.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of a thromboembolism depend on which organs are affected. Venous thromboembolism usually causes pulmonary embolism. Arterial thrombosis can lead to strokes, heart attacks, renal infarctions, mesenteric infarctions (death of a section of the intestine) or splenic infarctions.

The most common consequences of thromboembolism are pulmonary embolism (venous thromboembolism) and stroke (arterial thromboembolism). The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism can range from mild to very severe, depending on the size and location of the detached thrombi. A severe pulmonary embolism is often fatal. The first signs are usually shortness of breath and chest pain.

Furthermore, tachycardia, cyanosis, dizziness, coughing and sweating are observed. In the case of milder pulmonary embolisms, only unspecific symptoms such as dizziness and slight fever often occur. As a result, they often go undiagnosed. The most common arterial thromboembolism is cerebral infarction (stroke). Again, there are different degrees of severity.

Hemiplegia, speech disorders and limited understanding of speech are typical of severe strokes. Other symptoms include visual disturbances, clouding of consciousness, balance problems (dizziness, unsteady gait), nausea, headaches and amnesia. In the case of kidney, spleen or mesenteric infarcts, the acute abdomen (colicky abdominal pain) is the first priority.

Kidney infarctions are also characterized by blood in the urine, partial urinary retention and possibly fever. In the case of a mesenteric infarction, the symptoms temporarily improve after the initially severe colic has subsided. This phase is followed by perforation of the intestine, which is accompanied by peritonitis, symptoms of shock, and often fatal sepsis.

Diagnosis & History

During an exam, the doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms. This is followed by a physical examination to look for swollen or discolored areas on the skin that indicate a thromboembolism. Depending on how likely a thromboembolism is, the doctor will carry out further tests. This can include:

Ultrasound : The device is placed on critical parts of the body and, with the help of sound waves, can reproduce an image on a monitor that gives the doctor a more precise idea of ​​how the blood vessels are behaving.

Blood test: Most people who suffer from thromboembolism have elevated levels of a clotting substance in their blood. This can be verified by a blood test.

CT or MRI : These are technically complex imaging procedures that can give the doctor an even more precise picture of the affected veins.


Thromboembolism is a dangerous disorder and can have very serious complications. If the patient has survived a thrombosis, a partially or even completely blocked vein often remains, which can lead to blood congestion in the affected limbs. The increased venous pressure often causes the development of varicose veins as well as swelling and skin changes on the lower leg, which can turn brown.

The formation of ulcers in the ankle area is also possible. These side effects are known as post-thrombotic syndrome and can affect the patient’s quality of life. There is also a risk of such a development if a blood clot is slowly broken down by the body, but the sensitive venous valves are destroyed in the process.

In these cases, the blood flow back to the heart is only possible unhindered when lying down. On the other hand, when sitting and especially when standing, the blood rushes back into the legs. Depending on how severe the venous valve damage already is, the affected limbs regularly swell significantly during the day. Edema develops.

Such complications are to be expected in particular if the patient does not take the thromboembolism seriously or if it is not treated professionally by a doctor for other reasons. The worst complication that can accompany deep vein thrombosis is pulmonary embolism. In this case, there is a risk of sudden cardiac arrest and death.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of a thromboembolism, the person concerned needs medical examination and treatment to prevent further complications. Only by recognizing the symptoms at an early stage can a complete cure be guaranteed and the death of the person affected be prevented. For this reason, a doctor should be consulted at the first sign of a thromboembolism. The doctor should be consulted for this disease if the person affected suffers from shortness of breath and severe heart problems. These symptoms usually appear very suddenly and do not go away on their own.

Most patients also suffer from severe chest pain or severely swollen legs. If these symptoms occur, a doctor must be consulted in any case. This disease cannot heal itself. If the symptoms of a thromboembolism appear, an ambulance must be called or a hospital must be visited. However, thromboembolism does not always have to lead to sudden symptoms. Chronic pain in the lungs or permanent heart problems can also indicate thromboembolism and should be examined by a cardiologist. The life expectancy of those affected may be reduced as a result of this disease.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment of thromboembolism has three goals: to stop blood clots from growing further; prevent the clot from dissolving; reduce the risk of further clots.

To achieve this, the following measures exist: Blood thinners: These agents thin the blood, thus reducing its ability to clot and thus also the risk of clots. Usually, the first doses are injected directly into the bloodstream. The therapy with special medication is then continued.

Thrombolytics: These drugs are used for more serious forms of thromboembolism. They are aimed directly at the dangerous clots and dissolve them in a targeted manner. The drugs can have severe side effects and are usually only used in life-threatening situations.

Filter: If medication cannot be used, it is possible to place a filter in the vein to prevent ascending clots from entering the lungs.


Preventing thromboembolism is much easier than treating it. There is an increased risk after surgery. It should be strictly adhered to the medication, especially when it comes to blood thinners.

People who sit frequently and for a long time should exercise their calves and legs; this can also be done in small exercises during work. Apart from that, you should get up often and move a few meters. A healthy body weight, healthy diet and not smoking are also successful preventive measures.


In most cases, those affected by thromboembolism have very few or only limited options for follow-up care, since it is a relatively rare disease. In order to avoid other complications or symptoms in the further course, those affected should consult a doctor at an early stage. A doctor should be contacted as soon as the first signs or symptoms of the disease appear.

Thromboembolism is usually treated by taking various medications, with antibiotics in particular being used. Regular intake with the correct dosage should always be observed, whereby antibiotics should not be taken together with alcohol. Those affected should always observe the prescribed dosage and also regular intake, whereby alcohol should be avoided during the cure.

In general, with this disease, a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet can have a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. Further aftercare measures are not available to those affected in the event of a thromboembolism. In most cases, this disease also does not reduce the life expectancy of the affected person.

You can do that yourself

In the event of a thromboembolism, the necessary measures must be taken immediately to avoid thrombosis. This includes active physiotherapy and wearing anti-thrombosis stockings or compression bandages. In addition, any coagulation-promoting drugs such as estrogens must be discontinued in consultation with the doctor. The doctor will also rule out thrombophilia. Depending on the severity of the thromboembolism, these measures may be sufficient to prevent thrombosis.

Extensive physical therapy may be needed in bedridden patients. It is also important to avoid arterial embolism. This succeeds, in addition to the administration of analgesics, through a change in lifestyle. Diet and general lifestyle should be designed so that the vessels do not continue to calcify, but instead heal.

If the thromboembolism is particularly severe, a hospital must be visited immediately. The condition can be potentially life-threatening if left untreated. After recovering from a thromboembolism, rest and rest continue to apply. It is best for the patient to talk to the doctor and discuss further measures with him. The AWMF guideline for the prevention of venous thromboembolism offers orientation for those affected.