Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot (often due to deep vein thrombosis) that passes through the circulatory system stops in the pulmonary vessels. This prevents the blood from flowing normally to your lungs, and it can be a life-threatening frightening condition that requires urgent and immediate care. Nevertheless, immediate treatment reduces the risk of death.
The risk factors for pulmonary embolism include:
- History of deep vein thrombosis
- People who are sitting or bed rest for a prolonged period of time,
- Have cancer or a history of cancer
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being above the age of 60
- Certain genetic conditions
- Taking birth control medication (It increase levels of clotting factors in the blood)
- History of congestive heart failure, chronic heart disease or recent myocardial infarction
Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms
Here are the warning signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Pain, swollen, warm or redness in the legs due to blood clot in the leg
- Chest pain that worsens with you take a deep breath due to less oxygen can get to the heart.
- Coughing up blood
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness ( you feel weak or faint, it can even lead to passing out)
- Low blood pressure
- Mild fever sometimes
- Excessive sweating or discolored skin
Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. You should get medical attention instantly if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or Coughing up blood.
Diagnose a pulmonary embolism may include: Medical history, a physical exam, chest X-Ray, blood tests, chest MRI, CT pulmonary angiography, ventilation/perfusion scan, and electrocardiogram.
Pulmonary Embolism Treatment
The treatment of pulmonary embolism depends on the capacity of damage to the pulmonary vessels. However, pulmonary embolism can be treated with medicines, and different therapies to stop the blood clot from advancing and to prevent any fresh blood clots from developing. Also, surgical procedures may be performed to remove or bust up the clot.
Medications: Anticoagulants such as heparin, warfarin are usually recommended for at least three to six months. In life-threatening circumstances, thrombolysis may require to dissolve large blood clots.
Other treatment options are vena cava filter or surgery.
The best way to protect yourself from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, include the following:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Avoid the intake of excess alcohol and caffeine.
- Regular exercise
- Stretching every 30 minutes, if you are sitting for long periods of time
- Your doctor might prescribe anticoagulants to prevent your blood from forming clots.
- Maintain a healthy weight