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Arterial Embolism

more about Arterial Embolism


  • In patients with certain heart irregularities or heart valve problems, blood clots form in the heart or on the heart valve and get "thrown" to the rest of the body.
  • An arterial embolism occurs when one of these "thrown" clots travels and becomes lodged in an artery or an arteriole (small artery) downstream from the point where the clot (thrombus) originated.  The word for this "thrown" clot, while it is traveling, or once it has lodged itself, is "embolus ".  Once it lodges, this embolus now blocks or partly blocks blood/oxygen/nutrients from reaching the tissues and organs downstream from the embolus.

  • For example, occurring in an extremity (such as toes):
    1. Pain
    2. Numbness
    3. Coldness
    4. Tingling
    5. Hypersensitivity to pain
    6. Decreased sensitivity to pain
    7. Muscle Spasm
  • For example, occurring in the brain:
    1. Sudden weakness of the right or left half of the body.
    2. Loss of speech (Aphasia)
    3. Numerous other symptoms of a Stroke (see Brain Attack)

  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart valve problems
  • Coronary artery disease

  • Examination (embolus in an extremity, for example):
    1. Lack of pulse in affected extremity
    2. Loss of color (pale)
    3. Mottled (net-like) appearance
    4. Gangrene appearance
    5. Muscle weakness
    6. Also see Brain Attack
  • Imaging (embolus in an extremity, for example):
    1. Arterial Ultrasound
    2. Arteriography (dye is injected to check blood flow)
    3. Electrocardiogram -- to check heart rhythm
    4. Echocardiogram (Ultrasound of heart to check for source of blood clots)
    5. Transesophageal Echocardiogram (very accurate Ultrasound, but need to pass probe into esophagus)
    6. Also see Brain Attack

  • Embolus in an extremity, for example:
    1. Heparin -- a blood thinner -- is given while awaiting surgery
    2. Surgical removal of embolism (blood clot)
    3. If treatment is delayed by more than 12 hours and gangrene or necrosis has already occurred, signifying severe damage, then blood thinners are used alone as it is too late for surgery.
    4. Also see Brain Attack





more about Arterial Embolism


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