DVT is basically deep vein thrombosis characterized by one or more blood clots in the deep veins in the body. These clots are formed generally in the large veins of the legs or thighs and having said that, PE or pulmonary embolism is a condition occurring due to blockage of pulmonary arteries in the lungs. This occurs when the blood clots travel towards the lungs and cause blockage.
Causes of DVT and PE
Long hours of immobility due to bed rest or any other reason may form blood clots in the deeper veins of the leg causing deep vein thrombosis. A pulmonary embolism (PE) is caused when the blood clot so occurred due to DVT travels to the blood vessel in the lungs thereby blocking the blood supply. Occasionally, it may happen so that the PE may occur from a blood clot in the arm vein or clot formed in the heart. The condition of PE can be quite dangerous as fatal as well.
What Can be the Other Causes of PE Other than Originating from a DVT?
PE can originate from various other reasons such as:
- Fatty material from a large broken bone such as the femur bone.
- Presence of foreign material in the body. This can enter the body from an impure injection or drug misuse.
- In rare cases, amniotic fluid from pregnancy or childbirth.
- Sometimes a presence of a large air bubble in the vein may lead to pulmonary embolism.
- Breakage of a small cancerous material like a tumor from a large tumor present in the body.
What are the General Symptoms of DVT and PE?
Sometimes, it may happen so that the DVT may occur without any symptoms. When there are symptoms they can include:
- Swelling and pain in the leg which is affected by DVT.
- Feeling of warmth in the affected area when it is touched.
- Change in the color of the affected area such as redness.
The symptoms of PE are quite serious and they require immediate medical attention. It can also be fatal if medical help is not provided immediately. The symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath for unexplained reasons.
- Complaint of chest pain while coughing or breathing deeply.
- Coughing up blood often.
- Feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Presence of rapid pulse without any unexplained reason.
- Frequent episodes of sweating.
How are DVT and PE Diagnosed?
Once the medical history of the patient is taken, the doctor may ask the patient to go for an ultrasound for specific diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. In an ultrasound, the test uses sound waves to create pictures of the flow of blood through the arteries and veins in the affected area. Sometimes, the ultrasound may not show proper results or presence of blood clots. In such cases, other tests may be required. Some of the tests other than ultrasound may include:
- D-Dimer Test or venography. Such a test measures a sort of substance in the blood that gets released when the clots get dissolved in the blood. If such a test shows higher levels of the substance in the blood, it may be probably because of the presence of deep vein thrombosis.
- In case of pulmonary embolism, the doctor may suggest going for an ultrasound of the heart, or the echocardiogram. This may be useful for people who have a serious form of PE. This is because it can show large clots in the lungs and the way it affects the heart. It can be done at the bedside.
- DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
- 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
- Warning Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis: How do I know if I have DVT?
- Symptoms and Dangers of DVT
- Can DVT Occur in the Arm?