Blood clotting, also known as coagulation, is the body’s first line of defense against bleeding. When we hurt ourselves, our clotting system forms a “plug” or “seal” to protect us from losing too much blood. Our bodies often break down the clot after we’ve healed – but sometimes, clots form inappropriately or fail to dissolve after an injury. A blood clot that forms and stays in a blood vessel is called a thrombus.

Other medical terms used to describe blood clots include:

Thrombosis: When a thrombus forms in a blood vessel

Embolus or Embolism: A clot that detaches and travels through blood vessels to another part of the body

There are two main types of thrombosis:

Arterial thrombosis refers to a blood clot that blocks an artery. Arteries carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. Arterial blood clots can block blood flow to the heart and brain, often resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

Venous thrombosis, also known as venous thromboembolism or VTE, refers to a blood clot in a vein. Veins carry blood to the heart from other parts of the body. VTE is a condition that includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

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