ALI occurs when there is a sudden interruption of blood flow through blood vessels of the arm or leg. In most cases, flow is blocked by thrombus, a thickened mass of blood or clot. Such a blockage prevents necessary oxygen and nutrients from reaching cells that depend on them for survival. How long tissue remains viable or “alive” depends on the degree to which a vessel is blocked, as well as the presence of alternate vessels through which blood can flow to reach at-risk tissue.
ALI can occur due to the following events:
- Acute thrombosis occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms at the site of plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in an artery.
- Arterial embolism occurs when a blood clot (embolus) breaks off from elsewhere in the body, such as the heart, travels through the bloodstream, and becomes lodged in an artery.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This overview is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Be sure to talk with your doctor for a complete discussion of this condition as well as the benefits and risks of any treatment options.