Coronary thrombosis is a serious medical condition that can lead to a heart attack or even death. It occurs when a clot forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

Coronary thrombosis is responsible for approximately one-third of sudden cardiac deaths in the United States, leading to an estimated 200,000 deaths each year.

This article discusses the causes and symptoms of a blood clot in a coronary artery.

A man with chest pain, a sign of coronary thrombosis. -1Share on Pinterest
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Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of coronary thrombosis. It occurs when plaque builds up inside the arteries, narrowing them and reducing blood flow to the heart.

If the plaque ruptures, it can trigger a blood clot to form, blocking the artery and leading to a heart attack.

Other causes of coronary thrombosis include:

  • coronary artery dissection
  • congenital anomalies in the coronary arteries
  • embolism of a blood clot within the heart chambers (intracardiac thrombus)
  • a complication of heart catheterization, heart surgery, or trauma
  • coronary artery spasm
  • blood vessel inflammation

Symptoms of coronary thrombosis include:

A blood clot in a coronary artery is a medical emergency and requires prompt treatment. People who experience these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room.

The following risk factors increase a person’s likelihood of developing coronary thrombosis:

A blood clot in a coronary artery causes a heart attack and can lead to serious complications, such as heart failure or death.

Treatment for coronary thrombosis depends on the severity of the clot and the person’s overall health.

Possible treatment options include:

  • Medication: Doctors may prescribe antiplatelets, anticoagulants, or thrombolytics to help prevent the blood from further clotting or to dissolve an existing clot.
  • Surgery: In some cases, doctors may recommend coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to bypass a blocked artery. Another option is a coronary angioplasty; cardiologists access the coronary arteries and place a stent to open the clogged artery.
  • Lifestyle changes: Doctors may also recommend that people make lifestyle changes to help prevent future blood clots. These changes include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.

Coronary thrombosis is a medical emergency, and early diagnosis and treatment are essential for a positive outcome.

People who experience chest pain or other symptoms associated with coronary thrombosis should seek immediate medical attention.

The outlook for people with coronary thrombosis depends on the severity of the clot and how quickly they receive treatment.

While a blood clot in a coronary artery can be life threatening, early detection and prompt treatment can improve a person’s chances of recovery.

Below are some answers to common questions about coronary thrombosis.

What are the chances of surviving coronary thrombosis?

In general, the chances of survival are good for people who receive prompt treatment.

A 2022 article states that the mortality rate has decreased in recent years to around 10–12% in the United States.

How do they treat a blood clot in a coronary artery?

Doctors use coronary angioplasty to treat coronary thrombosis.

This is meant to widen the blocked artery, allowing more blood to get through.

To perform a coronary angioplasty, surgeons will do the following:

  1. Create a small opening in the wrist or groin and insert a thin tube called a catheter into a blood vessel.
  2. Use X-rays to guide the catheter to the heart.
  3. Replace the first catheter with another tube with a deflated balloon on the end.
  4. Bring the catheter to the blockage site and inflate it, which pushes plaque aside and makes the artery wider, improving blood flow.
  5. Insert a small mesh tube called a stent into the artery, which keeps the artery open.

Is a blood clot in the heart an emergency?

Yes, a blood clot in the heart is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Coronary thrombosis is a medical emergency that can lead to a heart attack or other complications. Common causes of coronary thrombosis include atherosclerosis and other underlying health conditions.

People who experience symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath should call 911 and seek emergency medical attention.

With early detection and prompt treatment, the outlook for people with coronary thrombosis can be positive, but timing is essential to improve their chances of recovery and survival.