If a person suspects a blood clot blocking an artery (arterial thrombosis) or has risk factors for developing one, they should share their medical history and notify their doctor. A physical examination is performed to assess symptoms, and if a heart attack is suspected, blood testing for troponin may be ordered.
Imaging techniques like electrocardiograms, angiograms, and ultrasounds are used to examine arteries and identify clots. In some cases, invasive treatments like angiograms may be indicated.
To treat a blood clot blocking an artery (arterial thrombosis), doctors may offer the following treatments:
Surgical treatments for arterial thrombosis block heart arteries include carotid endarterectomy and coronary artery bypass, which eliminate fatty deposits and blood vessels. Interventional coronary angioplasty may enlarge the artery without incision.
As the first step of therapy for clots, doctors may give thrombolytics, which dissolve rapidly but cause hazardous bleeding. Some patients may need to keep taking these medications in order to reduce their clot risk. Patients who are pregnant or undergoing surgery may not be suitable, and those with atherosclerosis, heart attacks, or stroke may need lifetime treatment.
Others may need behavioral or nutritional changes to minimize plaque in their arteries.