Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot occurs in the lung which results in a blockage of the blood supply to lungs. The blood clot can originate from the legs which may break off and travel through the blood stream to lodge in the lungs, causing severe damage to that organ. In other cases, it may start in the blood vessels of the lung.
The symptom associated with pumonary embolism varies and is dependent on the location and size of the clot.
Common symptoms include:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, stop smoking, exercise regularly, and prevent obesity. In situations of high DVT risks such as major surgery, do discuss with your doctor on preventive measures which include medications such as blood thinners and physical methods such as foot/calf pumps and compression stockings.
If the occurrence of DVT or PE is suspected it is best to seek medical help and to confirm the presence of DVT with radiological imaging such as a duplex ultrasound of the affected leg.
Risk factors for pulmonary embolism is similar to deep vein thrombosis. This includes poor blood flow and hypercoagulable states (a condition in which there is an abnormal increased tendency toward blood clotting). Conditions that put patients at high risk for DVT include spinal cord injury, major trauma, major general surgery. The use of chemotherapy, oral contraceptive therapy, hormone replacement therapy and paralytic stroke may also increase the risk of DVT. Other conditions that confer risks include obesity, bed rest for more than three days, and immobility due to sitting and varicose veins.
Pulmonary embolism is diagnosed via a computed tomography pulmonary angiogram which involves the injection of a dye into the blood vessel before the scan is taken. The scan will be able to identify any blood clots or blockages in the lungs. The scan may not be suitable for everyone such as people with poor kidney function or who are allergic to contrast dye.