Pulmonary embolism refers to a blood clot in the pulmonary arteries of lungs. You experience blockage due to the blood clot and this clot moves to the lungs from the legs. Under rare circumstances, clot starts moving from other parts of your body. Since these clots prevent the blood flow to your lungs, it can become very critical. It is a life-threatening situation, and correct treatment must be taken to lower the risk. Adequate measures need to be taken to stop blood clots in the legs.
Major symptoms of pulmonary embolism
The symptoms of this medical condition vary from person to person based on the impact it creates on the lungs and clot size also influences the symptoms. The signs can vary if you are already suffering from heart or lung disease. The shortness of breath is a common symptom, and it manifests almost immediately. This symptom worsens with exertion. Chest pain is another symptom, and the pain and discomfort can be pretty similar to a heart attack. The pain aggravates as you breathe deeply and it also gets worsened when you bend or cough. With exertion, the chest pain increases, and it is not going to disappear when you take rest. Cough is a major symptom of pulmonary embolism, and it can produce blood-streaked sputum. Other prominent symptoms associated with this disease are dizziness, rapid or unusual heartbeat, excess sweating, fever, discolored skin, leg pain and swelling.
Major causes of pulmonary embolism
You get affected with pulmonary embolism when a blood clot gets wedged into your lung’s artery. These blood clots usually arise from your leg’s deep veins. This condition is often referred to as deep vein thrombosis also called DVT. Multiple clots can be found in the patients, and they may not necessarily be at a time. Some patients may not receive blood to certain portions served by each artery of their lungs, and in such a situation, it becomes life-threatening. This condition is called pulmonary infarction. This condition makes it almost impossible for the lungs to distribute oxygen to other parts of your body. At certain occasions, blood vessels blockage occurs due to some other substances like air bubbles, tumor part, collagen and fat from the marrow of a broken bone.
Factors that increase your risk to pulmonary embolism
Anybody can develop blood clots and become vulnerable to pulmonary embolism. At the same; specific factors can increase the risk. You are highly susceptible if a family member has had blood clots in the past. Certain medical treatments and conditions increase your risk. Heart disease or other types of cardiovascular diseases increases the risk level. If you have cancer, particularly lung, ovarian or pancreatic cancer; your risk factors to blood clot increase and the chemotherapy treatment also makes you more vulnerable. If you have undergone a major surgery, you are likely to develop clots, and that is why doctors give medications that prevent blood clots. Bed rest is another factor that increases your chances, and other major factors include regular smoking, overweight, pregnancy and supplemental estrogen,
Diagnosis of pulmonary embolism
When you go to a doctor, they will ask about the symptoms and the overall health. Chest X-ray is done, and sometimes, electrocardiography is performed for measuring the electrical activity of your heart. Other options include MRI scan, CT scan, pulmonary angiography, duplex venous ultrasound, and venography. At certain occasions, a blood test called the D-dimer test is also undertaken.
Major treatment options for pulmonary embolism
The treatment is decided on the basis of the location and size. If pulmonary embolism is diagnosed early, medications alone are needed to break up the tiny clots. Major medications are anticoagulants also known as blood thinners, and clot dissolvers also called thrombolytics. If you have problematic lots, you have to undergo surgery. Surgery is inevitable if the blood clot does not allow blood flow to the heart or lungs. Different types of surgeries are employed to treat this disease, and they include vein filter, clot removal, and open surgery. When it comes to vein filter, a tiny incision is made for installing a small filter in the vena cava with the help of a thin wire. It is the major vein that travels from your legs to the heart. A blood clot is prevented by the filter. As far as clot removal is concerned, your doctor uses a small tube to take out big clots from the artery. Open surgery is an option for an emergency situation and doctors employ this method when medications do not offer the expected results.
After addressing the clot related issues, you have to undergo treatment for the underlying cause. In order to prevent the reoccurrence of the problem, you may need to take anticoagulant medications, and the doctors advise you to use compression stockings to prevent the formation of clots in the legs. Proper leg exercises need to be done as a part of follow up care.