Cerebral embolism: what is it and how does it affect?

Cerebral embolism involves the journey of an embolus from somewhere in the body to the brain, interrupting the flow of blood to certain neurons. It is an emergency situation with the possibility of having serious consequences.

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Cerebral embolism is a type of cerebral infarction, that is, a stroke in which a part of the brain runs out of blood. It is, unfortunately, a very common pathology and an emergency situation. Here we tell you everything you should know about it.

What is cerebral embolism?

As we have already discussed, cerebral embolism is a type of cerebral infarction or stroke. This means that due to the interruption of blood flow in a blood vessel in the brain, the area of ​​the brain that was irrigated by that vessel is left without receiving blood.

When a tissue stops receiving blood, it is also not receiving oxygen or other nutrients, since the blood is in charge of transporting these substances. What happens is that the cells that are part of that tissue, first have difficulties to continue performing their functions, and finally end up dying.

The different types of heart attack are based on the production mechanism. Thus, cerebral embolism is produced, as its name indicates. by an embolus that reaches a vessel in the brain.

This embolus can be made of different substances, such as a clot of cells and blood particles. The plunger travels through the vessels until it reaches one in which, due to its size, it is blocked , preventing normal flow.

Emboli can be blood clots that travel through the circulation to the brain

Causes and types of cerebral embolism

We have already discussed that the substances from which the piston may be formed are different. Thus, some of the main types of blood emboli and their causes are:

  • Clots:formed by a blood clot that acquires a denser consistency than normal blood. Its main cause is atrial fibrillation , which causes a turbulent flow of blood to the heart and its formation. Long immobilization, especially of the legs, after an operation or accident, is also a circumstance that facilitates the appearance.
  • Air: itis an air bubble that prevents the passage of blood. It is formed when a quantity of air gets into a blood vessel. For example, when inserting the needle for a blood draw.
  • Fat: They are produced when many fats accumulate in the blood in the form of cholesterol .

For clarification, it should be said that the difference between a thrombus and an embolus is that the thrombus occludes the vessel in the same place in which it forms, without detaching from the walls. However, the plunger will travel through the circulatory system until it becomes stuck. The causes and types of thrombus and embolus, therefore, will be the same in origin.

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How does it affect the body and what are its symptoms?

The brain is the organ of the body most sensitive to blood flow. This is because it is made up of many cells – neurons – that constantly require large amounts of oxygen. Interruption of blood flow in one area causes brain tissue to atrophy and die within minutes.

Symptoms of a cerebral embolism appear suddenly. There are also cases in which they will gradually appear in hours, but they are the least.

The symptoms will depend on the blood vessel it affects and the area and extension of the brain that it waters. Some of the most frequent symptoms of cerebral embolism are:

  • Headache
  • Weakness or loss of sensationof one or more extremities, or of one half of the body
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Motor incoordinationwhen walking
  • Dizzinessor dizziness
  • Loss of visionin one or both eyes.

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Diagnosis and treatment

Symptoms appear immediately in cerebral embolism, and imaging studies can confirm pathology.

Cerebral embolism is an emergency situation . This is because the longer an area of ​​the brain goes without irrigation, the more tissue will die, and the consequences will be more serious and irreversible. Rapid recognition of symptoms and calling emergency services is crucial in this situation.

Once the emergency sequence has been activated, the healthcare providers will be in charge of evaluating the patient’s clinic. If necessary, tests, such as CT, will be done to confirm that it is a stroke and to classify it into one of the types.

Once the type of cerebral ischemia is established, the speed with which it is treated will be essential. In the case of embolism, it can be treated with drugs that dissolve the embolus or with surgery to remove it. This will depend on the type and location of the embolus, being the specialists who decide the treatment that best suits each case.

Cerebral embolism is an emergency

It is a frequent pathology and an emergency situation . It will be essential to recognize the symptoms and warning signs to notify the emergency services. Once these have been launched, they will decide in each case the most appropriate steps to follow.

We must bear in mind that it will not always be possible to recover all the functions that have been lost after a stroke. Rehabilitation will be required, which may be more or less long, depending on each particular case.


by Abdullah Sam
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