What is an embolism?The most common cause of embolism is thrombosis in the legs or pelvis. Here, a small graft is often formed, which, however, dissolves quite quickly and then "wanders around" in the arteries or veins.
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An embolism should not be mistaken for thrombosis. Although an embolus frequently develops from a thrombus, it still involves two different clinical pictures.
In a thrombosis, the clogging clot (called thrombus) usually forms directly at the site of the complaint. In the case of embolism, a smaller clot often forms at the beginning, but it dissolves and wanders around in the vessels. It can enlarge and eventually clog another vessel.
By the way, an embolism can also affect both veins and arteries. Therefore, there is both an arterial and a venous embolism. Here, differences are mostly made by the place of origin of the embolus.
The most common cause of embolism is thrombosis in the legs or pelvis. Here, a small graft is often formed, which, however, dissolves quite quickly and then "wanders around" in the arteries or veins.
In most cases, these clots eventually remain in the arteries or veins of the lungs and cause embolization of the lungs.
However, the heart, kidneys and even muscles can be affected.
In addition, there are other types of embolism besides venous and arterial embolism. One would be, for example, bacterial embolism. In this, the clot is additionally burdened with bacteria.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
The symptoms of embolism depend on the body region in which the vessel occlusion occurs. Often there are disabilities of the blood flow, which in turn has a negative effect on the affected organs. In addition, the dying of tissue threatens. On the other hand, if the embolism manifests itself in areas of the body in which there are effective bypasses, a symptom-free course without physical impairments is also possible.
In many cases, however, the affected persons suffer from abruptly occurring pain. If the embolism causes the blockage of a blood vessel, this leads to typical symptoms. If, for example, a large artery on the arm or leg is affected, pain, paleness, emotional disorders, pulse loss, paralysis, and shock usually appear.
If a brain embolism takes place, this leads to a stroke. This manifests itself among other things by paralysis and unconsciousness. Rarely does an embolism appear on the coronary vessels, which can cause a heart attack.
Sometimes embolisms also occur on the intestines and cause different complaints. Kidney embolism, for example, causes renal infarction, which is associated with pain and blood in the urine. Severe symptoms of an embolism in the intestinal mesentery, such as a mesenteric infarction, in which patients suffer from severe abdominal pain, fever and bloody diarrhea.
In turn, pulmonary embolism results in symptoms such as abrupt breathlessness, palpitations, hypotension, accelerated breathing, and circulatory shock. By a heart overload threatens even the death in the worst case.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of embolism is not always easy, as it often makes only very vague. It always depends on the location of the blockage - and how the physical environment reacts to it. Frequently, the affected person feels nothing for a long time and then suffers an infarction.
Incidentally, an infarct may also affect muscles and individual organs. Unfortunately, a clot can also migrate into the heart or brain, where it can cause a stroke or a heart attack. Other symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis can be pain and numbness in the affected area of the body.
Especially in high-risk patients and in case of unusual symptoms, a doctor should be consulted quickly. Incidentally, at-risk patients include the elderly, smokers and people who suffer from diabetes, hypertension or severe obesity.
An embolism has a variety of causes, which can also have a variety of complications. Typically, embolisms occur as a result of thrombosis, most commonly occurring in the leg veins. The blood clot can detach from the vessel wall and be trafficked with the bloodstream to the lung, resulting in pulmonary embolism.
The person suffering from shortness of breath and has severe chest pain, which must be treated immediately. In the worst case, the patient dies. An embolism around the arms can lead to a severe lack of it, which can restrict movement. In the worst case, this leads to the loss of each limb.
Furthermore, the embolism can also play in the kidney or the spleen. There is a loss of function and failure of these organs. Also in the area of the intestine it can come to a blockage of the vessels. This leads to a bowel infarction and thus to a dying off of the intestinal section.
This can lead to inflammation, which in the worst case can spread systemically and thus leads to life-threatening sepsis. In the brain too, embolism can lead to various signs of paralysis or cramping. In certain vessels, this can also lead to a stroke.
When should you go to the doctor?
When the first signs of embolism are noticed, an emergency call must be made immediately. First responders should provide first aid on the spot and immobilize the affected person and, if necessary, provide medical treatment. A medical emergency includes symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, severe coughing and restlessness. For these complaints: alert the rescue service and take action. If the person is unconscious, respiration and heart rate should be checked to see if there is a cardiac arrest.
People with hip or leg prostheses, spinal cord injury, severe heart or lung disease, or malignant tumors are particularly susceptible to embolism. Likewise, the elderly and stroke patients. Patients who have already survived a pulmonary embolism should also talk to a doctor quickly if symptoms are unusual. The same applies to women during pregnancy or after a cesarean section. After an embolism, regular visits to the doctor are indicated. Accompanying this may also be a therapeutic counseling for the person concerned and his relatives sense.
Treatment & Therapy
The first step to successful treatment and treatment of embolism is to resolve the constipation. First of all, it must be found out exactly where the shutter is located. For this, physicians can now rely on a wide range of different test procedures.
Incidentally, if severe pain is associated with the embolism, it will also be turned off during the beginning of the treatment. First aid is not just about finding the closure. At best, one should also find the cause of the formation of the plug and get to the bottom of it.
If the cause has been found and eliminated, any damage must be treated. This can happen through medication, but also through cures and rehabilitation measures. It depends very much on what triggered the embolism and maybe even damaged it.
And unfortunately some damages can be irreparable. This is especially true when the embolism has triggered a stroke (stroke).
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of an embolism is tied to the location of the clogged vessel in the organism as well as the size of the blood clot. The localization of a clot close to an organ can result in significant disruption, failure or premature death of the patient. Organ activity is limited by the decreased blood supply or breaks down in severe cases. In addition, the death of tissue threatens. This also causes a functional restriction or a failure of the organ function.
In regions with good bypasses, the prognosis of embolism improves significantly. The blood may choose another alternative route and adequate supply of the organism is still guaranteed. Often with a small blood clot the affected person does not notice that it is present. It comes later in the first signs that are noticeable by circulatory disorders. If a diagnosis is made at this stage, the prognosis is good. Medical treatment removes the clot and the patient is considered cured.
Without treatment, the clot will increase in size. It can be transported at any time through the bloodstream to another location in the organism and trigger a blood congestion there. This leads to a life-threatening condition of the person concerned and can become an acute health risk.
An embolism can only be prevented by keeping the risk as low as possible. For example, one should abstain from smoking, eat healthily and maintain a normal and healthy weight. Sport and exercise is of course the best preventive measures.
Because this can avoid the risk factors such as adult onset and overweight. To prevent embolism but also anticoagulant drugs and special support stockings can be used.
In the case of an embolism, the person concerned is primarily dependent on medical treatment by a doctor. The sooner this treatment is initiated, the better in most cases, the further course of the disease. If left untreated, it can in the worst case lead to the death of the person affected, so that embolism in the foreground is an early diagnosis with early treatment.
The aftercare measures are usually very limited. However, the cause of the embolism should be recognized and continue to be treated. Further treatment depends on the exact damage caused by the embolism and must reduce it as much as possible. The victims are usually dependent on the intake of medication or on different therapies, whereby not all damages can be treated again.
When taking medicines, ensure that the dosage is correct. Many exercises from different therapies can also be carried out in one's own home, so that the healing is accelerated a bit. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet can also have a positive effect on the further course of the embolism. However, the life expectancy of the patient may be reduced by this disease.
You can do that yourself
In the case of an acute embolism, an emergency doctor must be alerted immediately. It is important to reassure the person concerned and to pay attention to further warning signs. In the case of a pulmonary embolism, the affected person must take a semi-sitting position, in the event of an embolism in the legs or a stroke, the lying position is recommended.
In case of collapse or cardiac arrest, first aid should be provided as far as possible. Subsequently, the person concerned should be accompanied to the hospital, since the hospital stay usually lasts several days or weeks. Further treatment steps treat possible damage to the embolism. Accompanying the conventional medical measures, the doctor will recommend, among other things, physical activity and dietary measures.
In case of major health impairments, a psychologist will also be consulted in consultation with the patient. This is especially necessary if the embolism has caused a stroke. In such severe cases, family members will also be advised on therapeutic advice. Accompanying this, further measures must be taken to ensure continued care of the person concerned. In less severe cases physiotherapeutic measures are recommended.