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What are Infarctions?

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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Infarctions are tissue areas in the body that have died because they did not receive proper oxygen. The term is used to describe the process that causes this condition, as well as to name the tissue that has been affected. The Latin root of infarctions, infarcire, is translated to mean “to plug up or cram.”

Infarctions can occur in any organ within the body and can be caused by a variety of diseases. They are, however, most common with atherosclerosis, a disease of the arterial blood vessel that results in plaque formations in the arteries. When the person suffering from this disorder experiences a plaque rupture, a blood clot forms on the surface of the artery. This prevents proper blood flow. In turn, the clot moves further within the artery and blocks additional blood vessels. This blockage results in infarctions, as blood flow, and consequently oxygen flow, is restricted.

Myocardial infarctions are another form of infarction. In myocardial infarctions, the heart muscle dies because it has not received proper blood circulation. The most common cause of myocardial infarctions is narrowed coronary arteries, which result in blood clots and restricted blood flow. Other potential causes of infarctions include sepsis, antiphospholid syndrome, and giant-cell arteritis.

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Just as infarctions can be caused by a variety of diseases, they can also cause certain diseases or illnesses to occur. For example, 80% of strokes are believed to be caused by infarctions. Similarly, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, which can cause gangrene and necessitate amputation, can be caused by infarctions.

Infarctions are classified as either white or red. White infarctions are also called anemia, while red infarctions are referred to as hemorrhagic. The extent of the bleeding that takes place within the organ determines whether infarctions are classified as white or red. Those that occur in solid organs such as the spleen, heart, and kidneys are white because they are the result of a blockage in the artery and involve mostly platelets. Infarctions of the lung, however, are red, because more red blood cells are found in this organ.

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