Cholesterol embolism: risks, symptoms, and treatment

Cholesterol emboli can restrict blood flow to major organs. This can lead to serious and life-threatening complications. In this article, we describe what CE is, including its causes, risk factors, and signs and symptoms. We also describe common methods for diagnosing, treating, and preventing cholesterol blockages, and discussing the outlook for people with this condition. Finally, we advise on when to see a doctor.

What is cholesterol blockage?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that plays an important role in cell function. However, if cholesterol levels are high, cholesterol can bind to other debris to form plaques that stick to the inner walls of the arteries. A cholesterol embolism is a crystal of cholesterol that has broken off from the plaque and traveled through the circulatory system, eventually becoming stuck in a smaller artery. Cholesterol emboli can restrict blood flow to major organs. Depending on the severity of the obstruction and the organs affected, it can lead to serious or even fatal disorders. Cholesterol-occlusive syndrome is usually a gradual process that damages major organs over time. The main types of organ damage are mechanical obstruction and inflammation.

Typical sites for member involvement are:

the brain
the kidneys
Gastrointestinal (GI)

What are the causes and risk factors?

CE-causing plaque can contain various types of debris, but cholesterol crystals are usually the main substance that causes CE. Plaque develops when cholesterol levels are high. This could be due to the following reasons:

Eat a diet rich in saturated fats and trans fats
sedentary lifestyle
Stress and associated hormonal changes
genetic predisposition
Existing health problems, such as hypothyroidism and nephrotic syndrome.

The main risk factor for RA is atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Other risk factors are:

High blood pressure or high blood pressure
High level of fat in the blood
peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a blood circulation disorder that causes blockages, narrowing, or spasms of the blood vessels outside the brain and heart
Renal failure
natural aging
to be a man

People who receive certain treatments for heart or blood vessel conditions also have a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. During vascular procedures, cholesterol plaques are more likely to separate and stick.

Signs and symptoms

Common general symptoms of CE are:

muscle pain
Lose weight

A person may also experience more specific symptoms due to a lack of blood flow to certain organs. Cholesterol blockages most commonly affect the kidneys, skin, and digestive system. According to a 2021 study, kidney problems occur in 31.5% of cases, skin problems in 15.5% of cases, and digestive problems in 13.4% of cases.

The symptoms a person experiences depend on which organ is affected.

Possible symptoms may be:

Kidney symptoms. In the early stages of kidney disease, a person will likely not have any symptoms.

In the later stages, a person may experience multiple symptoms, including:

lack of appetite
frequent urination
blood in urine
Swelling in the ankles, feet or hands.

skin symptoms

It may include the following
Blue or purple toes
skin ulcers
Reticulo-fibrous rash, which is a lace-like rash.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

It may include:

Stomach ache
intestinal obstruction

Central nervous system (CNS) symptoms.

It may include:

brain attack
Spinal cord infarction

eye symptoms


mesh panel
Loss of vision in at least one eye
sudden blindness


Doctors often diagnose EC. However, as researchers learn more about this disease, the diagnosis is becoming more common, and the primary tool doctors use to diagnose CE is a tissue biopsy. Doctors may take tissue samples from the following areas:

the kidneys
Stomach and colon mucus
bone marrow

Other tests are usually included in the workup, including a complete blood count, a basic metabolic panel, and a urinalysis.

The presence of EC usually becomes apparent when a person who has developed related symptoms suffers from a sudden event, such as a stroke. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help with the diagnosis. Computerized tomography (CT) angiography of the affected area is a commonly used imaging technique.

treatment or treatment

There is no specific treatment for CE. The main strategy for improving a person’s future prospects is to prevent cardiovascular complications. In some cases, a doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation in the organs associated with hepatitis C disease.

Here are some examples of these medicines

IL-1 . antagonists

If a doctor can locate a CE, they may recommend surgery to remove or bypass the blockage. However, the risks associated with surgery can be high, so doctors generally try more conservative methods when possible.


A person with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) will need to make lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of worsening cardiovascular disease. Preventive measures include:

stop smoking
Limit or avoid alcohol
Maintains moderate weight
Managing blood sugar levels
Avoid high blood pressure
Take aspirin and statins


The prospects for obtaining citizenship education are often poor. This is because CE increases the risk of cardiovascular complications. According to a 2021 review, 63-81% of CE cases result in death. The 4-year survival rate for CE is approximately 52%.

When to seek help and questions to ask the doctor?

People can test their cholesterol levels with a home test kit available at most drugstores. The test kit indicates whether a person’s cholesterol level is within the acceptable range. Anyone who knows that their cholesterol level is high should see a doctor for further advice.


A cholesterol blockage is a crystal of cholesterol that has broken off from an arterial plaque and lodged in a smaller artery. EC creates an artery blockage that can limit blood supply to major organs. This can lead to serious and life-threatening complications. CE can cause general symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. It can also cause symptoms specific to the organ it affects. There is no specific treatment for CE. The main goal is to make lifestyle changes or take medications that help prevent cardiovascular complications. People who have had such complications in the past may need medication to manage any secondary conditions. A person who is concerned about cholesterol levels or the possibility of CE should see a doctor for further advice and tests.


Ove, T., et al. (2021). Physiology and cholesterol.

Kondo, Y, et al. (2021). Cerebral infarction associated with cholesterol crystal embolism: magnetic resonance imaging and clinical characteristics.

Ozcock, A.; (2019). Cholesterol embolism syndrome: current views.

Shah, N, et al. (2021). Cholesterol blockage.

What is high cholesterol? (2019).

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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