The blockage of the blood flow in the lung due to a blood clot or the foreign object which gets lodged at the pulmonary artery of the lung is called pulmonary embolism or PE. The blood clot is called the emboli and it can come as the fat emboli from the femur or the thigh bone, as the emboli from the amniotic fluid or the blood clot may arise due to cancer. Often the blood clot is the one which breaks loose from the deep vein of the leg and travels or embolises to the lung through the circulatory system. The blood clot disrupts any kind of exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide which occurs within the lungs and also prevents the blood to flow to the tissues of the lungs. The tissues tend to swell and die henceforth.
How Can You Identify Pulmonary Embolism?
Even if sometimes the blood clot dissolves on its own and no major complication occurs, without proper treatment of pulmonary embolism, it can reoccur. Some of the common symptoms of pulmonary embolism which suggest that you need immediate medical attention are:
- Coughing and coughing up blood sputum
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Inflammation of the tissues which cover the chest walls and the lungs
- Breathing rapidly
How Does Pulmonary Embolism Cause Death?
If the blood clot blocking the artery of the lung is large; the blood flow in the lungs fails. This in turn results in the failure of breathing and the person dies. If the blood clot is small, the blood flow in the lungs is reduced and the lung tissues get damaged.
The complications that pulmonary embolism gives rise to –
- Abnormal rhythms of the heartbeat
- Paradoxical embolism
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Pulmonary infarction or death of a part of the lung
- Pleural effusion or a build-up of fluid developing between the outer lining of the lungs and the inner linings of the chest cavity.
- Cardiac arrest
- Sudden death
The risk of blood clotting which can give rise to severe PE or pulmonary embolism varies. It is not that if you have suffered through PE or pulmonary embolism once, you are prone to it again. Clotting of blood is highly probable if you are a patient of cancer even though agents like air, amniotic fluid, fat which are reabsorbed into the body will not give rise to PE again.
The blood flow between the lungs and the heart reduces to a very high extent if you are repeatedly suffering from PE or pulmonary embolism. Due to the improper blood flow between the heart and the lung the pressure of the lungs increase and this situation is called pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension will then slowly lead to the ride sided heart failure and there will also be a possibility of death.
The preventive measures to avoid blood clotting and to prevent PE or pulmonary embolism:
- If you are prescribed any kind of blood thinning medication or anticoagulant then you should take them regularly until suggested otherwise.
- The risk factors for the clotting of blood can be reduced like you can develop the habit to avoid smoking and you can try to lose weight.
- In case you are in a condition where you are immobile for a long period of time you may try to adopt the habits like wearing compression stockings, keeping yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids but avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
- You must exercise your legs daily for two to three hours which makes the blood flow to the heart smooth.
- While on a road trip, take regular intervals of rest. Rotate your ankles while sitting and walk up and down the aisle of a train or plain to exercise and avoid strain.
- What is Pulmonary Embolism: Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Risk Factors
- What is the Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism & How Long is its Recovery Period?
- How is Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed & What are its Complications?
- Prognosis & Prevention of Pulmonary Embolism