Etiology and pathogenesis of thromboembolism

Herz. 1991 Dec;16(6):395-404.


Thrombus formation in the left atrium and left ventricle is primarily due to stasis of blood which causes activation of the coagulation system. Migration of thrombotic material into the circulation depends on the dynamic forces of the circulation. Atrial fibrillation is the commonest underlying cardiac disorder predisposing to thromboembolism. Rheumatic mitral stenosis, left atrial enlargement, prior myocardial infarction, hypertension, and echocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy are risk factors for thromboembolic stroke in elderly patients with chronic atrial fibrillation. Non-valvular atrial fibrillation accounts for 45% of cardiac sources of thromboembolic stroke and includes patients with ischemic heart disease, hypertension, thyrotoxic heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, chronic sinoatrial disorder, and idiopathic atrial fibrillation. 15% of cardiac sources of thromboembolic stroke are associated with acute myocardial infarction, 10% with left ventricular aneurysm and mural thrombi remote from an acute myocardial infarction, 10% with rheumatic valvular heart disease, and 10% with prosthetic cardiac valves. Mitral valve prolapse, mitral annular calcium, nonischemic cardiomyopathies, infective endocarditis, nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis, left atrial myxoma, paradoxical embolism associated with congenital heart disease, calcific aortic stenosis, and complex atherosclerotic plaque within the proximal aorta also contribute to thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Thromboembolism / physiopathology*