Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the lung’s pulmonary artery, usually caused by blood clots that travel from veins in other parts of the body (usually deep veins in the legs). Pulmonary embolisms can be life threatening, due to the blocking of blood flow into the lungs, but risk can be significantly reduced with prompt treatment.
Pulmonary embolism is caused by blockage of blood flow to the lungs by multiple clots that have traveled from deep veins, almost always in the legs. Although blood clots are usually the main cause, blockage can also be caused by:
Fat from the marrow of a broken bone
Part of a tumor
Are there different types of pulmonary embolism?
Acute pulmonary embolism is the sudden onset of symptoms caused by blood clot in the lungs.
Chronic pulmonary embolism, the least common type, is caused by residual blood clots left along the vessel walls in the lungs, even after previous treatments.
Subacute pulmonary embolism develops over the course of 2-12 weeks and has a higher mortality rate than other types. Subacute cases are also more prone to becoming treatment resistant.
What are the risk factors for pulmonary embolism?
Blood disorders or conditions like kidney disease that make someone more prone to clotting
The best way to prevent pulmonary embolism is by taking efforts to prevent blood clots in your leg veins. Common tactics for this include:
Doing pneumatic compression treatments
Engaging in physical activity
Keeping your legs elevated
Taking blood thinners before and after an operation
Wearing compression stockings
How do you treat a pulmonary embolism?
The goal of treating a pulmonary embolism is to keep the clot from getting bigger and prevent new ones from forming. Your physician may prescribe blood thinners, recommend clot removal surgery, or provide other suggestions for ongoing care.
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