By | June 10, 2022

Thromboembolism is caused by a blood clot in the bloodstream. It leads to the occlusion of the affected blood vessel, which can then no longer supply the corresponding organs. Left untreated, a thromboembolism can be fatal.

What is thromboembolism?

A thromboembolism is characterized by a blood clot that can move freely in the bloodstream and can completely occlude the corresponding blood vessel. It always arises from an existing thrombosis by mechanical detachment of a thrombus. There are both venous and arterial thromboembolisms. For what does rbd stand for, please visit

In most cases, it is a venous embolism that originates from a thrombosis in the deep veins of the legs. In this case, the thrombus always moves towards the lungs and can trigger a pulmonary embolism . Arterial thromboembolism is caused by arterial thrombosis in the arteries. If a thrombus detaches here, more peripheral organs such as the brain, heart, eye, kidney or intestine are affected by an embolism.

The oxygen supply to these organs is interrupted or severely reduced, which can lead to the partial death of certain parts of the organs. Heart attacks, strokes, retinal infarctions (eye) or mesenteric infarctions (intestinal infarction) occur.

Thromboembolism often develops suddenly out of the blue and without prior symptoms. Symptoms that can be traced back to circulatory disorders in important veins or arteries only exist in the case of extensive thrombosis.


A prerequisite for a thromboembolism is always the presence of a thrombosis. This is a vascular disease that leads to the formation of a blood clot. The deep veins of the legs are most affected by thrombosis. However, the same causes can also cause thrombosis in the arm veins or various arteries (arteries).

However, when thrombosis is mentioned, what is usually meant is the formation of thrombi in the veins of the legs. Overall, three main factors are responsible for the development of thrombosis. These include damage to the vessel wall, reduced flow rate of the blood and its changed viscosity. The vessel walls can be damaged by chronic inflammation.

Diabetes, arteriosclerosis, autoimmune reactions and smoking pose major risks for inflammatory processes in the vessels. This creates rough spots on the vessel walls, where small blood clots, which normally form constantly in the blood, stick. Other thrombi accumulate on these established thrombi until the blood vessel completely occludes or a thrombus is swept through the bloodstream in the form of a thromboembolism.

A change in the flow velocity takes place, among other things, at points where turbulence can occur. In the case of arteries, for example, this occurs when larger arteries are divided into several smaller arteries. But the flow of blood is also impeded in varicose veins or aneurysms. There, too, thrombi often form, especially after lying down for a long time or if the legs are in an unusual position when traveling by bus or plane.

Rolling over your legs can also disrupt blood flow. If the blood flow rate slows down due to thickening of the blood, such as from dehydration, thrombosis can also develop. Regardless of these causes, there are still genetically determined blood clotting disorders that can lead to increased blood clotting and thus increase the risk of thrombosis.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Venous thromboembolism usually causes a pulmonary embolism, which can also be fatal. Blood clots from the deep veins of the legs get into the pulmonary arteries and block them. When the blood flow is almost completely stopped, hardly any blood can get into the left ventricle. This puts the oxygen supply to many body organs at risk.

Symptoms include sudden shortness of breath, cardiac arrhythmia, coughing up blood, swelling in the legs, chest pain and, in very severe cases, cardiac arrest. Smaller pulmonary embolisms can be asymptomatic, but lead to chronic pulmonary hypertension and heart failure over a longer period of time.

Arterial thromboembolism affects individual organs. Blood flow problems caused by blood clots can cause infarctions of the heart, brain (stroke), eyes, kidneys or intestines. Symptoms depend on the organ affected.

Diagnosis & course of disease

Thrombosis can be diagnosed, among other things, by blood tests for D-dimers. These are breakdown products of thrombi. However, this test is not specific enough to be used as unequivocal proof of thrombosis. Today, however, venous thrombosis is detected by means of an ultrasound examination and confirmed by an X-ray examination with contrast media.


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?

A thromboembolism is a medical emergency. Emergency services are needed to ensure the victim’s survival. A doctor must be called if there is an irregular heart rhythm, sudden shortness of breath or pain in the chest area. If there is swelling of the limbs, bloody sputum or internal weakness, there is an acute need for action. In the event of a thromboembolism, those present must react quickly and professionally. First aid measures are necessary to ensure the survival of the person concerned.

Circulatory disorders, cramps or impairments of physical functions indicate a health irregularity. Discolouration of the skin, the formation of varicose veins and restricted mobility must be examined and treated. If sporting or everyday obligations can no longer be fulfilled as usual, there is already a need for action. These are warning signals from the organism that should be followed up. Sensitivity disorders, headaches or circulatory irregularities should be examined and treated.

Irregularities in memory, tachycardia or unsteady gait also indicate a health imbalance in the early stages of the disease. A feeling of inner heaviness, disturbances in muscle activity, or a general malaise should be presented to a doctor. Further investigations are needed to enable a diagnosis to be made.

Treatment & Therapy

In many cases, a pulmonary embolism requires emergency treatment to save life. Adequate ventilation must be provided for this. At the same time, the administration of anticoagulants such as heparin, warfarin or phenprocoumon is necessary. If shock symptoms occur, the circulation must be stabilized.

Furthermore, in acute cases, the thrombi are dissolved as part of a lysis therapy (dissolved by enzymes) or destroyed by mechanical crushing using the catheter technique. Even after the acute treatment, the anticoagulants should be administered for a few months or, in special cases, even for life. Lysis therapy, the reopening of the blood vessels using catheter technology or thrombectomy (surgical removal of the thrombus) are also used for arterial thromboembolism.


A healthy lifestyle can prevent thromboembolism. This reduces the risk factors diabetes, dyslipidemia or arteriosclerosis. A healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, not smoking and alcohol, and avoiding stress and obesity.

After operations or accidents, rapid mobilization should be sought in order to keep the risk of thrombus formation as low as possible. In the case of existing coagulation disorders, the administration of clopidogrel or acetylsalicylic acid has proven to prevent arterial thromboembolism.

You can do that yourself

The most important point is to avoid blood congestion. A balanced diet and exercise help. Those affected should go for a walk for at least 30 minutes every day and at least five times a week. In addition, you should get up every two to three hours for ten minutes and walk a little, especially if you are doing sedentary work. Activities such as swimming, cycling or light jogging several times a week are also recommended.

Even simple foot and leg exercises every morning for 15 minutes can help. Those affected can also be helped by the right diet. Especially foods with plenty of vitamin E are recommended. Vitamin E contains anticoagulant properties. These help prevent blood clots. The vitamin inhibits platelet aggregation and thus combats the effects of coagulation factors. Ginger also plays an important role. It contains a natural salicylate and can use it to block vitamin K, which thins the blood. It also promotes blood flow in the vessels.

In addition, it is advisable to prevent high cholesterol levels. Because these cause plaque accumulations and thus inhibit blood circulation. The active ingredient capsaicin, which is contained in cayenne pepper, also promotes blood circulation. It strengthens the capillaries and arteries. Another great natural remedy is apple cider vinegar. This improves blood circulation and blood flow and thus reduces blood clotting.