Blood Clots

What types of conditions are caused by blood clots? (Continued)

Arterial thrombus

An arterial thrombus stops the blood supply to the tissues beyond the blockage, depriving cells of oxygen and nutrients. This quickly leads to tissue death. Arterial thrombus is the mechanism that causes:

Atrial fibrillation

In atrial fibrillation, small clots may form along the walls of the atrium or the upper chambers of the heart. Should one of these clots break off, it may embolize, or travel in the bloodstream to the brain, blocking an artery and causing a stroke. Other arteries may also be involved by this process, including those that supply the bowel. This can cause mesenteric ischemia (mesentery=lining of the bowel + ischemia=loss of blood supply) and potential necrosis (tissue death) of the intestine. Clots can also affect blood supply to fingers and toes.

Blood should clot anytime it becomes stagnant. This also means that clots will form when blood leaks out of blood vessels.

Examples include some of the following:

  • With bleeding peptic ulcers, patients may vomit liquid blood mixed with clot.
  • Patients with rectal bleeding may also have clot mixed with the bloody stool if there has been time for the clot to form.
  • Sometimes patients with urinary tract or bladder infections develop associated bleeding in their urine, and small clots can form. On occasion these clots may be so big that they cannot be passed and block the urethra, preventing urination and causing urinary retention.
  • Vaginal bleeding is a normal event for most women in the reproductive years and occasionally, blood can pool in the vagina and form clots before being expelled. If clots form in the uterus, they may cause significant pain and pressure as they pass through the cervix while being expelled.
Reviewed on 7/10/2014
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