A pulmonary embolism (PE), otherwise known as a deep vein thrombosis, is a medical condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more pulmonary arteries in the lung. A pulmonary embolism is caused by clots that travel through the arteries to the lung from the legs. Typically, the embolism, otherwise known as a clot, gets stuck in the artery and blocks the blood flow. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the more susceptible a person is to have pulmonary infarction. Pulmonary infraction is caused when the blood flow to the lungs are blocked. This causes the lung tissue to die which is incredibly dangerous because you need oxygen that the lungs provide to live. A PE can be a life-threatening condition and should be taken seriously.
Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism:
It is important to know the symptoms of a PE because this is a serious medical condition that requires medical attention as soon as possible. Some people don’t show any symptoms of a PE. However, if you do show symptoms they would include:
- Chest Pain: Chest pain is a common symptom of a PE. It is commonly compared to the feeling of having a heart attack. The pain only continues to worsen and is a serious symptom.
- Difficulty Breathing: Difficulty breathing is another common symptom and can feel like a large weight is on your chest.
- Bloody Cough: A bloody cough is another sign of a PE and it is a serious symptom.
- Cyanosis: Cyanosis is a condition in which your skin becomes sweaty and discolored.
- Leg Swelling/Pain: Leg swelling and pain is another symptom. This is caused blood not being able to circulate through the arteries.
How to Treat a Pulmonary Embolism:
There are multiple treatments for PE depending on the severity of the blockage, the size of the clot and the amount of time a clot has been present. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Blood Thinners: Blood thinners, otherwise known as anticoagulants are the most typically used PE therapy. The use of a blood thinner will prevent the clot from getting bigger while also preventing new clots from forming.
- Catheter-directed Thrombolysis: Catheter-directed thrombolysis is a PE therapy in which a catheter which is a thin tube is inserted into a vein in the arm or the leg that travels to the lung where the clot will be removed or dissolved by medicine.
- Vein Filter: A vein filter is a PE therapy that can be placed in the inferior vena cava to filter blood clots to the pulmonary artery.
How to Prevent A Pulmonary Embolism:
There are steps you can take to prevent a PE from occurring or reoccurring. Here are some steps to preventing PE:
- Blood Thinners
- Compression Socks
- Elevate Legs