A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that takes place in the lungs. What is blood clots in lungs? It can harm part of the lung due to restricted blood flow, reduce oxygen levels in the blood, and affect other organs too. Big or multiple blood clots can be fatal.
The blockage can be dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic, it results in the death of one-third of people who go undiagnosed or without treatment. However, instant first aid significantly increases your possibilities of avoiding irreversible lung damage.
Causes of Pulmonary Embolism
Embolism can form for a range of reasons. Pulmonary embolisms are frequently caused by deep vein thrombosis, a condition where blood clots form in veins deep in the body. The blood clots that usually cause lung embolisms begin in the legs or pelvis.
Blood clots in the deep veins of the body can have numerous various causes, consisting of:
- Medical conditions: Some health conditions cause blood to thicken too easily, which can lead to pulmonary embolism. Treatments for medical conditions, such as surgery or chemotherapy for cancer, can also cause blood clots.
- Inactivity: During long periods of lack of exercise, gravity causes blood to stagnate in the lowest areas of your body, which may result in an embolism. This might happen if you’re sitting for a prolonged journey or if you’re lying in bed recovering from a health problem.
- Injury or damage: Injuries like bone fractures or muscle tears can cause damage to capillary, causing clots.
There are additional risk factors that increase your chances of having the type of blood clot that can cause pulmonary embolism.
Who Is under Risk to Have Blood Clots in Lungs?
Factors that increase your risk of establishing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism consist of:
- weight problems
- a family history of embolisms
- age over 60 years
- fractures of the leg or hip
- significant surgery
- hypercoagulable states or genetic blood clot disorders, consisting of Factor V Leiden, prothrombin gene mutation, and raised levels of homocysteine
- taking estrogen or testosterone
- a sedentary lifestyle
- a history of heart attack or stroke
Symptoms of Blood Clots in Lung
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism depend on the size of the clot and where it lodges in the lung.
The most common symptom of a pulmonary embolism is shortness of breath. This might be progressive or abrupt.
Other symptoms of blood clots in lungs include:
- fast heartbeat
- weak pulse
- stress and anxiety
- chest pain that may extend into your arm, jaw, neck, and shoulder
- irregular heartbeat
- quick breathing
- clammy or bluish skin
- spitting up blood
If you observe several of these symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention right away.
In many cases, a lung embolism can be hard to diagnose. This is especially true if you have an underlying lung or heart disease, such as emphysema or high blood pressure.
When you visit your doctor for your symptoms, they’ll ask about your overall health and any pre-existing conditions you may have.
Your doctor will usually carry out one or more of the following tests to discover the reason for your symptoms:
- MRI: This scan uses radio waves and an electromagnetic field to produce comprehensive images.
- lung angiography: This test involves making a little cut so your doctor can direct specialized tools through your veins. Your doctor will inject a special dye so that the blood vessels of the lung can be seen.
- chest X-ray: This standard, noninvasive test allows medical professionals to see your heart and lungs in information, as well as any problems with the bones around your lungs.
- electrocardiography (ECG): This test measures your heart’s electrical activity.
- D-dimer test: A kind of blood test.
- venography: This is a customized X-ray of the veins of your legs.
- CT scan: This scan offers your doctor the capability to see cross-sectional images of your lungs. A special scan called a V/Q scan might be ordered.
- duplex venous ultrasound: This test uses radio waves to imagine the flow of blood and to look for blood clots in your legs.
Blood Clots in Lung Treatment
Your treatment for a pulmonary embolism depends upon the size and location of the embolism. If the issue is small and captured early, your doctor may suggest medication as treatment. Some drugs can break up little embolisms.
Drugs your doctor may recommend include:
- anticoagulants: Also called blood slimmers, the drugs heparin and warfarin prevent new embolisms from forming in your blood. They can save your life in an emergency situation.
- embolism dissolvers (thrombolytics): These drugs speed up the breakdown of a clot. They’re typically booked for emergency situations due to the fact that side effects may include dangerous bleeding problems.
Surgery might be required to remove problematic and most dangerous clots, particularly those that restrict blood circulation to the lungs or heart. Some surgeries your doctor may use in the case of a blood clot in lung consist of:
- vein filter: Your doctor will make a small cut, then use a thin wire to install a little filter in your inferior vena cava. The vena cava is the main vein that leads from your legs to the right side of your heart. The filter prevents embolism from traveling from your legs to your lungs.
- clot in lung removal: A thin tube called a catheter will suction large clots from your artery. It isn’t really an entirely effective approach because of the difficulty involved, so it’s not constantly a preferred technique of treatment.
- open surgery: Doctors use open surgery only in emergency situation circumstances when an individual is in shock or medications aren’t working to separate the embolisms.
What to Do Next?
After you get proper treatment for a lung embolism at the hospital, you’ll be advised to treat the underlying cause. This is typically deep vein thrombosis.
You’ll most likely start taking anticoagulant medications, such as heparin and warfarin, to prevent blood clots from returning. You may also have to use compression stockings (they resemble actually tight socks) or another device to prevent clots from forming in your legs.
Frequently exercising your legs is likewise a key part of therapy after a lung embolism. Your doctor will provide you total instructions on how to look after yourself to prevent future blood clots.