An embolus is a traveling blood clot, that lodges in a blood vessel causing a complete or partial blockage. Emboli are multiple obstructing blood clots.
Emboli move through your bloodstream from their place of origin to another part of the body. An embolus is usually formed from clotting blood, but sometimes its made up of air, fat, plaque or tumor tissue.
When a blood clot gets snagged in a blood vessel and causes a flow reduction, it’s referred to as an embolism. And the tissue downstream is in jeopardy of damage or death due to the reduced blood and oxygen delivery. This embolic event can cause serious health consequences and routinely life threatening.
There are three general embolism types:
Pulmonary emboli are the most common type, and deep vein thrombosis is its prevailing cause. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a major vein, usually in the legs or pelvis.
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot blockage of your pulmonary artery. When emboli block the main pulmonary artery it can very quickly cause your death.
Warning symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may involve:
- chest pain
- rapid pulse
- leg swelling
- low grade fever
- swollen neck veins
- breathing difficulty
- lung fluid build-up
- movement, breathing pain
An arterial emboli event blocks blood flow at a major artery junction. Most often these blood clots snag at the groin, knee or thigh intersections. Arterial embolism can lead to tissue death and amputation if treatment is delayed.
Arterial embolus is generally a heart disease complication. And this type of blood clot in your brain is known as cerebral embolism. Its one of the causes for stroke.
Symptoms of an arterial embolism entail:
- muscle weakness
- pale, bluish, cool skin
- severe pain around blood clot area
A gas embolism is caused by a rapid change in environmental pressure, resulting in small respiratory gas air bubbles in your blood and other tissue. This is one health reason high fliers and scuba divers need to descend and ascend slowly.
Symptoms of a gas blocking embolism are:
- loss of consciousness
Risk factors for arterial and pulmonary embolus encompass:
- old age
- heart attack
- chest trauma
- broken hip, leg
- sickle cell anemia
- prolonged bed rest
- oral contraceptives
- congestive heart failure
- some congenital heart defects
A couple risk of factors for gas emboli include:
- plane flight
- scuba diving
- excessive alcohol
- medications ~ narcotics, antihistamines
Dissolving your emboli blood clots or air bubbles requires immediate medical treatment. Statistics indicate that over a quarter of those who suffer from a pulmonary or arterial embolism do not survive their blood clot episode.