A cerebral embolism increases the risk for an embolic stroke and causes symptoms such as sudden confusion and severe headache, according to the University of Washington Medicine. A cerebral embolism is a blood clot that formed in another part of the body and traveled to the brain.
A cerebral embolism usually forms in the heart or the large arteries of the upper chest and neck, informs the American Heart Association. When a segment of the blood clot breaks off, it travels through the circulatory system and becomes lodged in the smaller arteries of the brain. A blood clot can also form as a result of a heartbeat irregularity known as atrial fibrillation.
The symptoms of a cerebral embolism happen suddenly and vary depending on the part of the brain that is affected, notes Healthline. A cerebral embolism that induces a stroke can also cause facial numbness, vision loss in one or both eyes, and difficulty speaking or understanding words.
It is essential to restore blood flow as soon as possible, as an embolic stroke can damage the brain within minutes, adds University of Washington. If left untreated for too long, a cerebral embolism can lead to a loss of brain tissue and long-term disability.