What is Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage of the lung’s main artery or one of its branches by a substance that has traveled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (embolism).
As pulmonary embolism almost always occurs together with deep vein thrombosis, most doctors refer to the two conditions together as venous thromboembolism.
Although, pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening, prompt treatment can greatly reduce the risk of fatality.
Taking measures in order to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs helps protecting against pulmonary embolism.
Causes of Pulmonary Embolism:
Pulmonary embolus is the end result of a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot elsewhere in the body. Most commonly, the DVT begins in the leg, but they also can occur in veins within the abdominal cavity or in the arms.
Occasionally, substances other than blood clots can form blockages within the blood vessels inside your lungs. Examples include:
- Fat from within the marrow of a broken long bone
- Part of a tumor
- Air bubbles
Some risk factors for a pulmonary embolism are the same as the risk factors for deep vein thrombosis.
Pulmonary Embolism Risk Factors Include:
- Prolonged immobilization or alterations in normal blood flow (stasis)
- Bed rest
- Long journeys
- Increased clotting potential of the blood (hypercoagulability)
- Damage to the walls of the veins.
- Medical history
- Heart diseases
- Being overweight
- Supplemental estrogen
Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism:
Signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- The cough may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum.
- Leg pain or swelling, or both, usually in the calf
- Clammy or discolored skin (cyanosis)
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism:
In order to diagnose pulmonary embolisms, a review of clinical criteria to determine the need for testing is recommended.
If there are concerns this is followed by testing to determine a likelihood of being able to confirm a diagnosis.
- Blood tests
- High levels of D dimmers may suggest an increased likelihood of blood clots
- Chest X-ray, to rule out conditions which mimic the disease
- Ultrasound, to identify clots
- CT scan
- Pulmonary angiogram, to have a clear picture of the blood flow in the arteries of the lungs.
Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism:
Prompt treatment is integral to prevent serious complications.
Treatment is aimed at keeping the blood clot from getting bigger and preventing new clots from forming. It includes:
- Blood thinners
- Clot dissolvers
- Surgical procedures
- Clot removal
- Vein filter
- This procedure is typically reserved for people who can’t take anticoagulant drugs or when anticoagulant drugs don’t work well enough or fast enough.
By : Natural Health News