An embolism is a condition where the blood flow in an artery is blocked by a foreign body, such as a blood clot or an air bubble. To function properly, the body’s tissues and organs need oxygen, which is transported around the body in the bloodstream. If the blood supply to a major organ – such as the brain, heart or lungs – is blocked, the organ will lose some or all of its function.
We can have ARTERIAL AND PULMONARY embolism.
An arterial embolism is a blood clot that has travelled through your arteries and become stuck. This can block or restrict blood flow. Clots generally affect the arms, legs, or feet. An embolism is anything that obstructs blood flow. A single clot can cause more than one embolism. Pieces may break free and get stuck in other parts of the body. Some emboli travel to the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys.
When an artery is blocked, it can cause tissue damage or death in the affected area. Because of this, an arterial embolism is a medical emergency. It requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent injury.
A number of things may cause an arterial embolism. Damage to the arteries by disease or other health conditions is one major cause. High blood pressure may also increase the risk of an embolism. Having high blood pressure weakens the arterial walls, making it easier for blood to accumulate in the weakened artery and form clots.Other common causes of blood clots include
hardening of the arteries from high cholesterol
surgery that affects blood circulation
injuries to the arteries
atrial fibrillation — a type of rapid and irregular heartbeat
Symptoms : The symptoms of this condition depend on the location of the embolism. If you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. You may notice some of the following symptoms in an arm or leg after an embolism has formed:
lack of pulse
lack of movement
tingling or numbness
pain or spasms in the muscles
a feeling of weakness. These symptoms will likely be asymmetrical, appearing only on the side of your body with the embolism.
If left untreated or worsen,, there may be the following appearing , ulcers (open sores), an appearance of shedding skin, tissue death.
• smoke tobacco products
• have high blood pressure
• have had recent surgery
• have heart disease
• eat a diet high in cholesterol
• have an abnormally fast heart rate
• are obese
• live a sedentary lifestyle
• advanced age.
Your doctor may check for a decrease in your pulse or heart rate, as the lack of a local pulse may indicate tissue death. Your doctor may also use diagnostic and imaging tests to locate any emboli present in your body. Common tests include:
• angiogram — examines the blood vessels for abnormalities
• Doppler ultrasound — watches blood flow
• MRI — takes images of the body to locate blood clots.
The treatment and prevention of embolism are important. Treatment include the use of medication and surgery. A quick intervention is important to save lives. These include :
• avoid smoking
• refrain from eating foods high in fats and cholesterol
• exercise several times a week.
Your recovery will depend on how long you’ve had the embolism, the location of the clot, and the severity. Many people recover successfully from emboli. However, an embolism can recur after treatment, so it’s important to be aware of your symptoms and talk to your doctor if you may have an arterial embolism. Quick treatment is key to preventing permanent damage to the affected area.
Pulmonary embolism symptoms can vary greatly, depending on how much of your lung is involved, the size of the clots, and whether you have underlying lung or heart disease.
Common signs and symptoms
Shortness of breath. This symptom typically appears suddenly and always gets worse with exertion.
Chest pain. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack. The pain may becssome worse when you breathe deeply (pleurisy), cough, eat, bend or stoop. The pain will get worse with exertion but won’t go away when you rest.
Cough. The cough may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum.
Other signs and symptoms that can occur with pulmonary embolism include:
Leg pain or swelling, or both, usually in the calf ,Clammy or discolored skin (cyanosis), Fever
Excessive sweating, Rapid or irregular heartbeat, Lightheadedness or dizziness.
Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or a cough that produces bloody sputum.
Causes: Pulmonary embolism occurs when a clump of material, most often a blood clot, gets wedged into an artery in your lungs. These blood clots most commonly come from the deep veins of your legs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In most cases, multiple clots are involved but not necessarily all at once. The portions of lung served by each blocked artery are robbed of blood and may die. This is known as pulmonary infarction. This makes it more difficult for your lungs to provide oxygen to the rest of your body.
Occasionally, blockages in the blood vessels are caused by substances other than blood clots, such as:
Fat from the marrow of a broken long bone, Collagen or other tissue, Part of a tumor , Air bubbles.
The risks factors include your medical history and cancers, surgery, heart disease and any activity that immobilizes you in any way for long period of time.
Complications can occur . Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. About one-third of people with undiagnosed and untreated pulmonary embolism don’t survive. When the condition is diagnosed and treated promptly, however, that number drops dramatically.
The diagnosis and treatment is similar to that of arterial embolism. It is important that you see a good doctor or visit a good medical facility for timely intervention.