Treating embolisms

How an embolism is treated will depend on:

  • what caused the blockage
  • the size of the blockage
  • where in the body the blockage is

A surgical procedure called an embolectomy is sometimes carried out to remove an obstruction. During this operation, the surgeon will make a cut in the affected artery and the foreign body causing the blockage will be sucked out in a process known as aspiration.

Medication may be used to dissolve embolisms (thrombolysis) caused by blood clots. Anticoagulant medication , such as warfarin , heparin and low-dose aspirin , can help make the blood less sticky and stop further clots forming.

Embolisms caused by air bubbles are usually treated in a hyperbaric chamber. The air pressure inside the chamber is higher than the normal air pressure outside, which helps reduce the size of the air bubbles inside the diver's body.

These stepsinclude:

  • eating a healthy diet low in fat, high in fibre and including whole grains and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day )
  • limiting the amount of salt in your diet to no more than 6g (0.2oz or 1 teaspoon) a day
  • losing weight if you're overweight or obese, using a combination of regular exercise and a calorie-controlled diet
  • stopping smoking , if you smoke
  • exercising for a minimum of 150 minutes a week

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018