Paradoxical Embolism

Topic Overview

A paradoxical embolism is a blood clot that does not travel with normal blood flow. Normally, blood flows from the right side of the heart through the pulmonary arteries and lungs before it returns to the left side of the heart.

This type of embolism often causes a stroke because the clot moves directly from the right side of the heart to the left through a hole (defect) in the septum, which separates the upper right and left heart chambers. This hole is called a patent foramen ovale. The clot is pumped out of the heart and toward the brain, where it can cause a stroke.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Goldhaber SZ (2012). Pulmonary embolism. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1679–1695. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology
Last Revised January 10, 2013

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