Coronary Thrombosis

Updated on: August 18, 2014

What is coronary thrombosis?

The heart receives blood via the coronary vessels. When a blood clot forms inside the coronary vessels, this is known as coronary thrombosis. In almost all cases, the blood clot is formed at a site of an already diseased coronary vessel. The heart is a very delicate organ and needs adequate amounts of blood to maintain its function. If the blood supply is blocked, a heart attack can occur.

Why does a thrombus occur in a coronary vessel?

In the majority of cases, the thrombosis occurs at a site where the coronary artery has already been narrowed or blocked. The coronary artery narrowing may be due to process of atherosclerosis or cholesterol plaque build up. Because the blood is unable to flow through the narrowed portion of the coronary artery, it slows down and starts to sticks to the vessel wall- eventually forming a blood clot.

What are symptoms of a coronary thrombus?

Most individuals with a coronary thrombus have symptoms which may include:

- chest pain

- sweating

- dizziness

- difficulty breathing or fast breathing

- chest palpitations (fast heart rate)

- nausea, vomiting

Who is at risk for a coronary thrombus?

Coronary thrombus is most common in individuals who:

- smoke

- are diabetic

- have uncontrolled blood pressure

- have high cholesterol levels

- have a family history of heart problems

- are obese

- who are inactive

How is a diagnosis of coronary thrombus made?

The features of chest pain may indicate a coronary thrombus but to confirm the diagnosis the physician will perform:

Blood work: Blood will be drawn at 8 hour intervals to detect the presence of a heart attack.

ECG: The electrocardiogram may reveal the presence of a new or old heart attack.

X ray: The chest x ray may reveal the presence of any heart failure.

ECHO: This ultrasound based test can assess the heart as it beats and determine not only the valve problems but also the force of contraction.

Cardiac catheterization: This test requires x rays and a dye which is injected into the heart vessels. It remains the gold standard for detection of a coronary thrombus and the presence of any coronary artery disease.

What is treatment of coronary thrombus?

Coronary thrombus can cause a heart attack so it is extremely important to get to a hospital as soon as possible. The immediate treatment of a coronary thrombus is:

- taking nitroglycerin tablets

- oxygen

- blood thinners

- Coronary artery angioplasty or stenting (essentially ballooning)

- open heart surgery

How can coronary thrombus be prevented?

The risks of coronary thrombus formation can be decreased by:

- being active, exercise regularly

- controlling blood sugar

- controlling blood pressure

- stop smoking

- avoid high fat diet

- control cholesterol levels

- take an aspirin every day

Which type of physician deals with coronary thrombus?

All heart problems are dealt by physicians who have added training in the field of cardiology. The physicians are known as cardiologists.

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