What Is Embolism?

Embolism or Emboli is a condition in which a foreign object or substance such as a blood clot or gas bubble is stuck in a blood vessel and causes a blockage in the bloodstream. These blockages can cause different symptoms for each person, depending on the type and location of the blocked blood vessels.

Basically the body has three types of blood vessels that are found in all organs of the body, namely arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries play a role in supplying oxygen from the heart throughout the body, the vein acts to restore oxygen to the heart, and capillaries are the smallest blood vessels that connect arteries and veins while regulating the supply of oxygen to the body's tissues.

When one or more blood vessels of an organ have a blockage, the function of the organ will be disrupted. If you do not get proper treatment, blockage of blood vessels that interfere with organ function can cause damage to the organ permanently.

Symptoms of Embolism
Symptoms that can appear in embolic patients can be different, depending on the type of blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries) that are blocked and the location of blockages, such as the lungs ( pulmonary embolism ) or brain ( stroke ).

If the patient has a blockage in the blood vessels in the lungs, the symptoms that can appear include:
  • Chest pain.
  • Hard to breathe.
  • Cough.
Whereas if a blockage occurs in the brain and causes a stroke, the symptoms that appear can be:
  • Paralysis of the limbs.
  • Talking disorders.
In certain cases, emboli does not show symptoms to the sufferer. This is because foreign substances do not completely clog the arteries.

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Causes of Embolism
The following are some substances that can cause embolism, namely:
  • Gas. Gas or air bubbles can cause blockages in blood vessels. This condition usually occurs in divers. Gas or air bubbles can appear in a vessel when a diver experiences decompression, resulting in returning too quickly to the surface.
  • Blood clots . Basically, the body has a natural blood clotting process when cut or injured. The freezing process serves to prevent bleeding. However, blood clots occur excessively even though there is no incision or injury to someone with conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer , or pregnant women. Excessive blood clotting has the potential to cause blood clots and interfere with the circulatory system in the body.
  • Cholesterol. Emboli can be experienced by someone who has or has a history of atherosclerosis . Atherosclerosis is a condition in which blood vessels narrow due to accumulation of cholesterol. In conditions that are classified as severe, cholesterol deposits that cause constriction of blood vessels in people with atherosclerosis, can be released and flow in the blood vessels, and get stuck and clog arteries in other locations.
  • Fat. Broken bones can make the fat in the bone detach and enter the blood vessels and cause blockages.
  • Amniotic water . Amniotic fluid or aminotic fluid is a fluid that protects the fetus during the womb. Although classified as rare, the fluid can leak and enter the mother's blood vessels and cause blockages.
There are also several factors that increase a person's risk of developing an embolism, namely:
  • Obesity
  • 60 years or older.
  • Smoke.
  • Pregnant.
  • Not active for a long time, for example because of lying in the hospital.
  • Suffering from heart disease.

Embolism Diagnosis
The diagnosis is adjusted to the presumption based on examination of symptoms, disease history, and overall condition of the patient. Some of the tests used to diagnose embolism include:
  • Blood test.
  • MRI.
  • CT scan .
  • Venography, which is imaging using X-ray photos to see the condition of the veins.
  • Arteriography, which is imaging with X-ray photos to see the condition of the arteries. This test is combined with the administration of contrast dye.
  • Lung and heart function tests.

Emboli Treatment
Treatment of emboli can be done by administration of drugs or surgery. Some examples of drugs used are:
  • Anticoagulants (such as heparin ), function to prevent blood clots.
  • Thrombolytics (for example alteplase), function to fuse clot blood. Giving this drug can also be done with the help of a catheter or special hose, so that the drug directly leads to existing blood clots.
If drug administration alone is not able to overcome embolism, the doctor will recommend surgery. The example is:
  • Thrombectomy. This procedure aims to remove existing blood clots.
  • Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter . This procedure is done by implanting a special tool in the form of a net, which serves to filter foreign substances in the blood vessels and prevent them from spreading to other organs.

Prevention of Embolism
There are several efforts that we can take to reduce the risk of developing emboli, including:
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid dehydration with sufficient fluid intake.
  • Don't smoke or consume alcohol.
  • Applying a diet with balanced nutrition and maintaining an ideal body weight.
  • Avoid sitting too long or actively moving.
  • Perform routine health checks.
  • Avoid using tight clothing.

Complications of Embolism
Complications that can occur in embolic patients can vary, depending on the type and location of blocked blood vessels, as well as the overall condition of the patient. Some embolic complications include:
  • Swelling.
  • Dry and flaking skin.
  • Stroke or heart attack .
  • Brain damage.
  • Change in skin tone.

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