Pulmonary Embolism What Is It?

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About half of all people who have pulmonary embolism (PE) display virtually no symptoms, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports. In fact, many aren’t aware at all of having the condition. (1) The number of people affected by PE and deep vein thrombosis is between 300,000-600,000 people each year in the United States alone. (2) Pulmonary embolism is life-threatening and very serious … Read More

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Blood Clot in the LegPulmonary embolism is a serious medical condition characterized by blood clots inside a lung artery.  These blood clots usually come from the legs and travel to the lung.

Blood clots in the legs are referred to as deep vein thrombosis in the medical community. These blood clots can break away and then travel to other parts of the body and can impede or block blood flow causing permanent damage. Pulmonary embolism left untreated can be deadly. 30% of those who have this medical condition will die from tissue damage or other health complications.

Having a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for long periods of time can contribute to developing deep vein thrombosis. Other risk factors for deep vein thrombosis include smoking, using oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy in being over 40. Deep vein thrombosis is the precursor that leads to a pulmonary embolism.

What are the signs of pulmonary embolism?

Dr. Oz talking about heart healthHere are some signs and symptoms that you want to be aware of regarding pulmonary embolism. Shortness of breath is one of the common signs that people experience with this medical condition. Individuals can also experience chest pain similar to having a heart attack.

Coughing up blood is another symptom to be aware of along with high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat. Individuals may also experience a fever and when examined by their doctor they may have unusual sounds coming from their heart and lungs.

Another warning sign that can be experienced on a pulmonary embolism is lightheadedness or passing out.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above are suspecting that you are loved one has this serious condition please consult with your medical healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Here are the Risk Factors from the Cleveland Clinic

The symptoms of a PE vary based on the individual and the severity of the blood clot. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Problems with breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing with or without bloody sputum (mucus)
  • An arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg
  • Pain or tenderness in the leg
  • Increased warmth in a leg that is swollen or painful
  • Red or discolored skin on the affected leg
  • Feelings of anxiety or dread
  • Bluish skin (cyanosis)
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating, clammy skin
  • Increased heart rate

The patient should see a doctor right away if experiencing any of these symptoms. However, in some cases, it is possible for the patient to have no symptoms with a pulmonary embolism.

How serious is a pulmonary embolism?

A PE is a very serious condition that can:

  • Cause heart damage.

  • Damage part of the lung because of the lack of blood flow to lung tissue, which can lead to pulmonary hypertension.

  • Cause low oxygen levels in the blood.

  • Damage other organs in the body because of a lack of oxygen.

  • Cause death if the blood clot gets too large or if there are multiple blood clots.

Cleveland Clinic

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