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Arterial Embolism

An arterial embolism is a blood clot or piece of atherosclerotic plaque that becomes lodged in the arterial system decreasing blood flow to the affected area. It can also deprive the surrounding tissues of blood flow and oxygen which can be damaging or even completely destructive.

The risk of arterial embolism can be caused by any factor that causes the formation of blood clots, including:

• Injury or damage to an artery wall
• Blood disorders associated with increased clotting
• Extensive atherosclerotic plaque
• Atrial fibrillation

Symptoms are dependent upon which area of the arterial system is affected. For example, if an arterial embolism occurs in an extremity, symptoms may include:

• Muscle pain in the extremity
• numbness and/or tingling in the extremity
• pale color of arm or leg
• decreased or absent pulse in the extremity
• decreased temperature in the extremity, lack or movement of the extremity
• weakness of the extremity
• muscle spasm in the extremity

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