Embolism

EMBOLISM pulmonary

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

Healthy circulation of blood is essential. Without it, your organs and cells will not receive the oxygen they need in order to continue functioning. Blood also transports hormones to their target cells. It carries digested nutrients and also clears away metabolic wastes. Any condition that impedes blood flow can have severe consequences.

There can be many factors that impair blood flow such as hardening of arteries or abnormal vascular arrangements such as arteriovenous malformations. Another possible reason for reduced blood flow could be a physical blockage in the arteries or veins. This could be in the form of plaque building up over time or it could even be a blood clot. Arteries can even become blocked by material originating in another part of the body that was carried along by the blood.

What Is Embolism?

EMBOLISM airAn embolus is any object or particle carried along by the blood which has the potential to block or obstruct an artery, vein or capillary. Examples of such materials include blood clots and fat globules. A blood clot originating in a blood vessel in one part of the body can be swept along by the blood moving past it. For the most part, it may be able to pass through blood vessels. However, at some point of time, it is likely to encounter a passage to narrow to pass through and it becomes firmly lodged there, cutting off the flow of blood through that blood vessel. This phenomenon is known as ‘embolism’ and it can have severe consequences. It can occur suddenly and unexpectedly without any prior warning signs.

Apart from blood clots, an embolism can also be caused by air bubbles, fat globules or small amounts of amniotic fluid. When a blood clot is the source of obstruction, as in the example given above, the condition is referred to as thromboembolism. One of the most severe forms of embolism occurs when such an obstruction arises in an artery supplying the lungs. This is known as pulmonary embolism and it can even be fatal. Fortunately, it can be successfully resolved with prompt medical intervention.

What Are The Different Types Of Embolism?

EMBOLISM pulmonaryAny case of embolism can be classified based on the nature of the material that the embolus is made up of. For instance:

  • Thromboembolism: This occurs when the obstruction is created by a blood clot. The clot itself would usually have originated in another blood vessel elsewhere in the body, eventually becoming dislodged and getting carried along by the blood.
  • Air embolism: In such instances, arteries or veins become blocked by air bubbles. This is also known as a gas embolism. Such events are very rare but they can occur if an injection is administered without taking care to clear out air bubbles from the syringe beforehand. Air can even enter blood vessels during surgery. But surgeons are usually aware of this possibility and will take care to prevent it or rectify it if it does occur.
  • Fat embolism: This can happen when you suffer an injury that damages bone and allows fatty matter from the interior of the bone to escape into the bloodstream. Alternatively, you may have atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become progressively narrowed due to the build-up of a cholesterol plaque within them. Sections of this plaque can become detached, forming emboli. Because fat globules are pliant, they may not cause complete occlusion of the blood vessel.
  • Amniotic fluid embolism:  During gestation, the fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid. During childbirth or even soon afterward, it is quite possible for some amount of this fluid along with fetal cells to enter the mother’s bloodstream. This condition is rare but it can be fatal.

Other types of embolism are recognized based on the organ directly affected. For instance, pulmonary embolism usually involves obstruction of a pulmonary artery by a blood clot. Similarly, renal embolism involves the kidneys and a brain embolism can take the form of a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

A special type of embolism is one known as a paradoxical embolism. Normally venous blood does not directly interact with arterial blood. The heart receives blood from the veins. This blood must then travel to the lungs where it is infused with oxygen. Upon returning to the heart from the lungs, this oxygenated blood is pumped into the arterial system. Sometimes, a hole in the septum of the heart allows a clot present in venous blood to be transferred directly into the other side of the heart where it mixes with oxygenated blood. The reverse is also possible. This is known as a paradoxical embolism.

What Causes An Embolism?

Any condition that predisposes you to clot formation can be a risk factor for thromboembolism. Examples include any condition involving impaired circulation or one that causes damage to the walls of blood vessels. One of the main causes of pulmonary embolism is deep vein thrombosis wherein blood clots arise within one of the deep veins of the body. Chunks of the clot may break away and float along until they get jammed into a vein or artery.

More risk factors for thromboembolism are laid out below:

  • Deep vein thrombosis.
  • Damage to the walls of the veins. This can happen when you have a habit of smoking.
  • Prolonged bed rest or immobility.
  • Having a family history of blood clots.
  • History of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
  • Trauma. This can include surgical trauma as well.
  • Hormone replacement therapy.
  • Having a blood clotting disorder.
  • Dehydration.
  • Heart disease.
  • Having a hole in the septum of the heart.
  • Lung disease.
  • Vasculitis.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Hughes syndrome.
  • Obesity.
  • Taking oral contraceptives.
  • Being pregnant.
  • Having varicose veins.
  • Taking chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Air embolism can be caused by any procedure that introduces air into blood vessels. Details on potential causes for air embolism appear below:

  • Failing to clear air from a syringe or an intravenous tube before administering it.
  • Air entering blood vessels during surgery.
  • Surfacing too quickly from depths when scuba diving. This causes nitrogen bubbles to form in the blood.
  • Air entering blood vessels as a result of injuries from explosions.
  • Artificial respiratory support.

Another form of embolism develops when a blood vessel gets blocked by fatty substances or cholesterol. Risk factors are discussed below:

  • Trauma to the bones.
  • Having atherosclerosis.

What Are The Symptoms Of Embolism?

The specific nature of symptoms and the rate of onset will depend on the degree of occlusion caused by the embolus, the blood vessels involved and the organ that has been impacted by the event. Some typical signs of pulmonary embolism are listed below:

  • Feeling short of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Spike in heartbeat.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded.

Among all of your organs, your brain has the largest requirement for oxygen. When an embolus becomes lodged in an artery leading to the brain, the section of nervous tissue that it services quickly becomes starved of oxygen. This leads to neurological symptoms such as:

  • Headache.
  • Double vision or blurring of vision.
  • Slurring of speech.
  • Dizziness.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Clumsy gait.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Drooping face muscles.
  • Confusion.

What Are Some Likely Complications?

A stroke can leave the patient with permanent brain damage. He or she may even become paralysed. In severe cases, the patient could die. Similarly, a pulmonary embolism can lead to heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and death.

How Can This Be Identified And Diagnosed?

Some forms of embolism, such as those involving amniotic fluid, are very hard to identify. This is partly because the condition is rare and may not be suspected immediately. Generally, though, imaging tests can help to identify blockages in blood vessels. The following procedures may be performed:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Blood tests, including the specialised D-Dimer test.
  • Angiography.

Is It Possible To Treat Embolism Successfully?

Absolutely.

Blood thinners are the first and foremost course of treatment administered to embolism patients. These prevent the formation of internal blood clots and also ensure that existing clots get dissolved gradually. These are given either in form of pills or are directly injected into the body. Heparin is one such commonly prescribed drug. Many thrombolytic drugs (clot-dissolvers) may be employed in extreme cases where the clot is life-threatening and needs to be dissolved as quickly as possible. Surgery can also be used to remove blood clots. This requires the insertion of a catheter or a vein filter that removes the clot.

There are several ways to prevent the onset of embolism, especially among those who are at a high risk of developing such blood clots. Anti-coagulants must be given to such patients before and after surgeries and in the event of a stroke or cardiac arrest. Patients with embolism must make it a habit to wear compression stockings and keep their legs elevated to avoid pooling of blood at the extremities. Patients should avoid sitting for long or traveling long distances without taking stops.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • When travelling, ensure that you are consuming adequate healthy fluids (avoid caffeine and alcohol).
  • If you have a severe case of pulmonary embolism, it is important to wear compression stockings.
  • Continue your blood-thinning medications strictly according to doctor’s institution.
Don'ts
  • Keep sitting in one place for a longer duration of time, such as long flights.
  • Completely skip out on exercises and physical activities.
  • Take aspirin under any circumstance. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

 

 

 

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Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
elements 22 test
Element 22 test (Nutrients & Toxicity) The element 22 test is used for measuring and monitoring the levels of heavy metals and some nutrients…
helping friend with depression
Support and care tips for helping people with depression Read to find out what is depression, its causes and symptoms. Also check out the steps describing how…
Medical conditions yoga can help with Yoga practitioners have outlined several health benefits of yoga and a daily yoga regimen can help in treating…
Medical conditions yoga can help with Yoga practitioners have outlined several health benefits of yoga and a daily yoga regimen can help in treating…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
10 reasons why you should up your selenium intake Selenium, though a trace mineral, is very much integral to your health. Find out how much selenium intake…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Holistic Healing: How does it harmonize your mind, body, and soul? Holistic healing is not one healing method, holistic healing encompasses a variety of techniques such as reiki, accupuncture,…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
hemoglobin variant analysis
Hemoglobin Variant Analysis Hemoglobin variant analysis is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of hemoglobin variants which…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…

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