Embolism – Blockage by Foreign Substance - Dream Health

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Embolism – Blockage by Foreign Substance

An embolism is an ailment where the blood flow in an artery gets blocked by a foreign particle like a blood clot or an air bubble.

The body’s tissues and organs need oxygen in order to function properly which is circulated in the body through the bloodstream and if the blood supply to major organs like the brain, heart or lungs is blocked, the organs tend to fail which can affect the overall health of the person.

The most serious conditions which can be caused by an embolism are: Stroke, where the supply of the blood to the brain gets interrupted or completely stopped and the pulmonary embolism where the supply to the lungs is stopped. Embolism is caused when a foreign body which could be an object or a substance should not be present in the blood.

These foreign bodies which tend to cause embolism are called emboli and singleemboli are called an embolus.

Blood contains Natural Clotting Agents

Blood contains natural clotting agents which prevents excessive bleeding when a person get injured Some health conditions like obesity, cancer, heart disease or pregnancy can cause blood clots to form when there is no bleeding and the blood clot could travel in the bloodstream before being clogged in an organ or a limb.

Fracture caused to a long bone like the thigh bone could lead to fat particles in the bone from being released into the bloodstream. Air bubbles or other types of gases entering the bloodstream could also be the cause of embolism. Scuba divers need to take precautions from air embolisms and if the diver tends to swim too quickly to the surface, the change in the pressure could cause nitrogen bubble to occur in the bloodstream.

This could cause the person to experience decompression sickness which is referred to as `the bend’. Extensive atherosclerosis or narrowed arteries which could be the cause of high cholesterol where small pieces of cholesterol tend to break away from the side of the blood vessel can end up in embolism.

Treatment Depends on Cause/Size/Location of Blockage

The different types of embolism besides the brain and pulmonary embolism are: Retinal embolism where small clots block the blood flow to the retina of the eye which may result in sudden blindness in the eye, amniotic embolism, when the amniotic fluid at the time of pregnancy tend to form clots which may reach the lungs, leading to pulmonary amniotic embolism, thromboembolism is caused when a blood clot or thrombus breaks free, forming an embolus which could lead to a heart attack.

Septic embolism is the result of infection from bacteria present in pus. Treatment for embolism depends on the cause of the blockage, the size of the blockage and the location of the blockage in the body where a surgical procedure known as an embolectomy is carried out for the removal of the blockage. At the time of surgery, the physician tends to make a cut in the affected artery and the foreign substance which is the cause of the blockage is sucked out through a process known as aspiration.

Medication is also used to dissolve embolism. Embolism which are caused by air bubbles are treated in a hyperbaric chamber where the air pressure inside the chamber is kept higher than the normal air pressure outside which helps in the reduction of the size of the air bubble within the diver’s body.

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