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Thrombosis: The Root of the Problem

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This past month, Hollywood lost two beloved stars, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. A dynamic mother/daughter duo, they passed within 24 hours of each other. Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack. Debbie Reynolds passed away from a stroke. What connects these two tragic deaths? Possibly thrombosis.

While the cause of Debbie Reynold’s stroke and Carrie Fisher’s heart attack has not been determined, thrombosis can cause both of these health issues.

It is well known that blood clots are bad for your health and that they cause medical issues, but what type of issues do they cause? More than you might think.

Heart Attack

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is a serious health issue that affects over a million people in North America each year. How do blood clots relate to it?

Within the coronary arteries, plaque can build up along the sides of the artery. The creation of this plaque is called atherosclerosis. This plaque can be made up of calcium, proteins, fat, and inflammatory cells. It creates a hard layer around the artery, narrowing the area for blood flow. This plaque can rupture and trigger blood clots to form.

Once a blood clot has formed within the coronary artery, it can block the blood flow to the heart. This causes tremendous damage to the heart by cutting off its oxygen supply.

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the upper body


As with a heart attack, strokes can also be caused by a blood clot. These are known as ischemic strokes.

Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot forms in an artery, due to atherosclerosis, and flows to the brain. This stops brain cells from getting the oxygen and nutrients they require. According to the American Stroke Association, ischemic strokes account for about 87 percent of all stroke cases.

Symptoms of a stroke:

  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • One side of the face droops
  • Difficulty speaking, slurred words

Pulmonary Embolism

Just as a heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks the heart and a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs. Often, this blood clot originates in the arms or legs as deep vein thrombosis.

PE causes shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid or irregular heart rate.

If you believe you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or believe you may have one of these conditions (PE, stroke, or heart attack), be sure to consult with your doctor immediately.

No matter what type of blood clot you suffer from, they have the potential to be fatal. That is why thrombosis prevention is so important. It’s not just about stopping blood clots, it’s about stopping heart attacks, strokes, and more.

Want to learn more about how thrombosis relates to cardiovascular disease? Register now for NATF’s 2017 Spring Patient Program on April 13th at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center in Boston, MA. Register now to attend.



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