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Cerebral embolism: types, symptoms, sequelae and causes

Cerebral embolism: types, symptoms, sequelae and causes

July 19, 2024

Embolic stroke, also known as brain stroke , is one of the major health complications that can occur to affect the functioning of the brain. It is a type of stroke that can cause permanent brain damage, induce a coma or, directly, cause death.

Next we will see how cerebral embolism occurs and what kind of damage and disorders it can cause.

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What is a cerebral embolism?

A cerebral embolism it is a type of infarction, that is, a vascular disease in which the flow of blood is interrupted (in this case, blood that runs through the vessels of the brain), seriously compromising the survival of regions of the body irrigated by that duct and its ramifications because of the immediate lack of oxygen. In this way, a suffocation situation occurs that affects an infarcted or ischemic area.

Specifically, what distinguishes cerebral embolism from other types of cerebral infarcts is the way in which it is produced the cessation of blood flow through the affected area . In this disease, a body obstructs the blood vessel for a time or permanently until it is removed by surgery.

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The difference between a thrombus and a plunger

The obstructive element that produces the cerebral embolism usually is a clot that is produced due to a narrowing of a section of the blood vessel. It must be taken into account, however, that in ischemic accidents This obstructive body can be of two types: or a thrombus or a plunger .

If it is a thrombus, this clot will not have left the wall of the blood vessel at any time, and it will have grown in size there. In contrast, the plunger does not have a fixed position in the circulatory system, and it goes through the blood vessels until it is "embedded" in one place and produce thrombosis.

Thus, while the thrombus affects the part of the body in which it develops, the embolus can come from a distant area of ​​the body and produce problems almost anywhere.

As regards stroke, is found within the ischemias known as embolic accidents , whereas infarcts produced by thrombi are thrombotic accidents.

Why does the damage occur in the brain?

We must bear in mind that the brain is one of the most complex organs of the human body, but also one of the most delicate and energetically demanding.

Unlike other body structures, it needs a constant blood flow to keep functioning; specifically, Each 100 grams of brain matter needs to receive about 50 ml each minute . of properly oxygenated blood.

If this amount drops to below 30 ml, an infarcted area can be generated due to lack of glucose and oxygen. In the case of cerebral embolism, the infarcted or ischemic area is dead cell tissue basically composed of neurons and glia.


The main long-term symptoms produced by this type of ischemic accident can be very varied, since many functions depend on the good functioning of the brain. But nevertheless, Short-term symptoms are easier to recognize ; they are the following, although the presence of only one does not mean that the cause is this, and they do not have to occur all at the same time:

  • Strong headache that appears suddenly.
  • Sudden appearance of a feeling of fatigue and fatigue that are difficult to explain.
  • Paralysis and / or numbness of one or several body parts, usually aligned on one side only, or left or right. For example, paralysis in one half of the face.
  • Loss of vision in a matter of seconds, or double vision.
  • Appearance of an intense tingling sensation in certain areas of the body.
  • Sudden confusion and disorientation : It is difficult to be aware of the time and place in which the person is.

Main types of cerebral embolism

Beyond the classification of ischemic events differentiating between thrombotic and embolic accidents, the latter also present different sub-categories that allow to better know the characteristics of each case.

Fundamentally, these categories depend on the characteristics of the piston that produces the risk situation. A) Yes, the main types of cerebral embolism They are the following.

1. Air piston

In these cases, the plunger is an air bubble which acts by preventing the passage of blood.

2. Tissue plunger

In this type of embolism, the obstructing body is part of a tumor or groups of cancer cells.

3. Fatty embolus

The plunger is made of fatty material that has accumulated forming a plate in the blood vessel, and which has been traveling through the circulation after being dislodged from its original position.

4. Heart plunger

In this type of cerebral embolism, the plunger is a blood clot that has acquired a thick and pasty consistency.

Disorders and associated sequelae

Among the most common sequels of cerebral embolism are the following:

Disorders of the regulation of emotions

People who have suffered a stroke may have greater difficulty in suppressing impulses, regulating complex emotional responses or expressing the way they feel.

Language disorders

The language uses networks of distributed neurons by various parts of the brain, making it easy for an ischemic accident to affect the biological functions that sustain it. For example, the appearance of aphasias is relatively common.


The cerebral embolism can cause that parts of the body are "disconnected" of the brain, which causes that the muscular fibers that move them do not activate by means of the motor neurons that arrive until them.


Apraxias are disorders based on difficulty coordinating voluntary movements .

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Memory problems and amnesias

Amnesias, both retrograde and antegrade, are not uncommon. It can also happen that procedural memory, linked to the intelligence of the person, decreases.

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