Pulmonary embolism is also referred to as PE. In this health condition, the lung artery gets blocked suddenly. Sometimes a blood clot may occur in your leg. When it further travel through the bloodstream and reach the veins of your lungs, it may cause this form of blockage. Such a clot is also referred to in the medical lexicon as an embolus. This is a very serious condition as such and has the potential to damage parts of one’s lung and this happens because the lung tissue does not get proper blood flow because of said blockage.
What are the symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?
The following are the common symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism.
- Shortness of breath – This is the most evident sign that you are suffering from this condition. However, you can never find any palpable reason as such. This also means that you experience problems in breathing and have issues such as pleuritic chest pain and coughing. At times, you may cough up blood as well.
- Arrhythmia – Another sign of PE is arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat. You may experience symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) as well. In this case, your legs may swell.
- Swelling in the vein – It might also happen that you experience swelling along a vein located in your leg. There could be tenderness or pain in your legs as well. Sometime, the swollen or tender part of your leg could feel warm as well. You might experience redness or discoloration at the skin of the affected part of your leg .
At times when people suffer from PE, they may also experience anxiety. They may feel lightheaded and faint as well. Some other signs are quick breathing, a higher rate of heartbeats and sweating as well.
In case you experience any one of the above mentioned symptoms it is better to seek medical guidance. Quite often, it might also happen that you contract PE but do not reveal any of these signs and symptoms.
Causes of Pulmonary Embolism
Normally PE owes its origins to DVT. When the blood clot responsible for causing DVT travels to your lungs through your bloodstream it can block an artery as well.
Several factors are responsible for causing development of blood clots in the deep veins of your legs. In most of the cases, it occurs when blood flow slows down and gets restricted. Usually, this happens when you are bed bound or are unable to move around because of various factors for a long period. Normally it could be so because you recently had surgery or when you are on a long road trip or flight as such. It could also happen if you are bedridden for a long period for some reason or the other.
Who are at Risk?
People who can develop pulmonary embolism include:
- Ones who have to sit for long periods while traveling by train or plane
- People with a history of heart failure or stroke
- Overweight or obese people
- People who have recently undergone trauma or injury to a vein, possibly after a recent surgery, fracture or due to varicose veins
- A pregnant woman or prematurely delivered in the previous 6 weeks
- Women under hormone replacement therapy or who are taking oral contraceptives
- During inserting of central venous catheters through the arm or leg
How to Treat Pulmonary Embolism?
The main objective of Pulmonary Embolism treatment is to:
- prevent the clot from growing further
- prevent new clots formation
- destroy the existing clot
The most effective and initial treatment for pulmonary embolisms is to provide oxygen therapy. Medication is primarily anticoagulant medications, such as heparin, enoxaparin, or warfarin. They are usually prescribed to treat the disease.
Also, clot-busting drugs called thrombolytic such as Activase, Retavase can be administered. The patients should take medications regularly for an indefinite amount of time, at least for 3 months.
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