thrombosis (thrŏmbōˈsĭs) [key], obstruction of an artery or vein by a blood clot (thrombus). Arterial thrombosis is generally more serious because the supply of oxygen and nutrition to an area of the body is halted. Thrombosis of one of the arteries leading to the heart (heart attack; see infarction) or of the brain (stroke) can result in death and, in a vessel of the extremities, may be followed by gangrene. Acute arterial thrombosis often results from the deposition of atherosclerotic material in the wall of an artery, which gradually narrows the channel, precipitating clot formation (see arteriosclerosis). A thrombus that breaks off and circulates through the bloodstream is called an embolus.