Blood clots are usually harmless. They form whenever we cut or scrape our skin or bump into something and get a bruise. However, when blood clots form within blood vessels they can obstruct blood flow, a condition called thrombosis. That could mean trouble. If a clot in an artery breaks free and travels through the circulatory system, it can cause blockages affecting the heart, lungs, and other organs—potentially shutting them down.
The results can be deadly. Thrombosis affects up to 900,000 people in the United States per year and kills up to 100,000.
“At Yale Medicine, patients with suspected thrombosis get evaluated very quickly,” says Michael Remetz, MD, a Yale Medicine interventional cardiologist. For blood clots that affect the heart: “That is precious time when the heart is being damaged. If a large part of the heart is affected, permanent heart damage results, or it can be fatal.”