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Thrombosis

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Updated September 15, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: Thrombosis refers to the development of a thrombus inside of the body. Thrombosis most commonly occurs inside of blood vessels and can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury or certain clotting disorders.

High cholesterol can also contribute to thrombosis. In this case, excess cholesterol and lipids circulating in the blood can deposit onto the inner wall of an artery, causing the development of a plaque. This plaque can crack, causing damage to the arterial wall and begin to rupture, prompting platelets to stick to the area of injury, and causing a thrombus to form.

Thrombosis can cause a partial or complete blockage of a vessel, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching surrounding tissues. Thrombosis is considered a medical emergency, because if a complete blockage of a vessel occurs, or if the thrombus dislodges and moves to another location in the body, it may cause death.

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