Alappuzha: In a shocking incident in the Alappuzha district of Kerala on Thursday, Anusha, a native of Pullukulangara, tried to kill Sneha, a 24-year-old woman from Kareelakulangara, by injecting air bubbles into her veins, which would have resulted in air embolism, using an empty syringe. However, the efforts of the perpetrator who is a trained pharmacist went in vain as Sneha, who had recently given birth, survived the vicious murder attempt.

Air embolism can be life-threatening. It is also known as a gas embolism. It happens when one or more air bubbles enter a vein or artery and block it. It should be noted that Anusha tried to kill Sneha by injecting air bubbles into her veins. This is called venous air embolism. On the other hand, if the air bubble enters an artery, it will be called an arterial air embolism. Such air bubbles may travel to the brain, heart, or lungs causing heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure.

"Air embolism happens when the air bubbles enter veins or arteries, resulting in a block. Similarly, we have pulmonary embolisms (blood clot), fat embolisms, etc. All these can be fatal if not detected in time. They tend to affect vital parts such as the brain, heart, or lungs," says a senior doctor in a government hospital in Kozhikode, who does not wish to reveal his identity.

Healthcare professionals tend to be careful while administering injections or drips to patients, and avoid air embolism in 99 percent of the cases.

"You would have noticed that medical professionals (doctors/nurses) inject out a couple of drops before injecting a person. A similar process is followed while administering drips. Now all these are actually precautionary measures for avoiding air embolism. In a few cases, the bubbles tend to dissolve by themselves, but otherwise, air embolism can be fatal," adds the doctor.

Commenting on the horrifying incident in Alappuzha, the doctor said: "I think, being a pharmacist, Anusha should be well aware of the minimum risk involved in killing Sneha through air embolism. It should be noted that detecting air embolism through blood tests or postmortem will not be that easy unlike in the case of poisoning. I am sure a layman could not have thought of such a plan."

"In a conspiracy to kill a person through air embolism, time factor will be crucial, as a delay in investigative procedures will help the culprits go scot-free. Hence the Alappuzha incident was a calculated homicide attempt," concludes the doctor.

Injections and surgical procedures, lung trauma, scuba diving, and explosion and blast injuries can potentially cause air embolism. Difficulty in breathing, heart failure, joint pains, stroke, and low blood pressure are symptoms of severe air embolism.

Doctors constantly monitor heart sounds, breathing rates, and blood pressure to identify air embolisms during surgeries. They perform an ultrasound or CT scan to confirm or rule out its presence.

Now, air embolism murder attempts are not something new in reel-life. In Angels and Heaven, two Malayalam movies released in 2014 and 2022 respectively, the protagonists can be seen killing their enemies through air embolism.

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