Can Pulmonary Embolism Be Treated?
Blood clots in your body are a serious matter that needs immediate medical attention. There are different types of blood clots: superficial venous thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. Here we will discuss pulmonary embolism specifically, as this is often the most fatal.
Blood clots usually occur in the legs but can occur anywhere in the body, blocking blood flow in a deep vein that leads to other vital organs such as the heart and lungs. This blood clot is called a DVT or deep vein thrombosis. This can lead to a pulmonary embolism when the clot breaks off and passes through the bloodstream to the lungs.
A pulmonary embolism occurs when there is a change in the flow of blood in the vein. If your blood flow slows down this can create a clot to form. Clots form when you do certain things such as,
- Sitting for long periods such as on a long car, plane, or train trips without getting up to exercise your legs and move about for a few minutes. Exercise gets the blood flowing faster.
- If you have had a surgical procedure and your activity level is greatly decreased because you are confined to bed, you can develop a clot.
- Women who take birth control pills are at a higher risk for developing a clot.
- Certain health issues such as cancer, those taking hormones, those who are overweight, and those with any number of autoimmune problems are at a higher risk for developing a clot.
- Blood clots are also thought to be hereditary.
- Surgical procedures and prolonged bed rest.
Blood clots affect your heart and lungs because both of these vital organs work together. The network of veins in your body goes to and from every essential organ, and it only takes one clot to mess up this transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the lungs. The symptoms may vary if you have heart or lung issues, how big the clot is, and how much of your lung is involved.
- Chest pain that does not get better upon rest
- Immediate shortness of breath
- Coughing and sometimes producing blood
- Leg pain and or swelling
- Clammy skin
- A bluish tint to the skin, nails, and lips
- Racing heartbeat
You Can Help to Prevent Blood Clots
Thankfully, you can reduce blood clots and prevent PE. There are several steps for avoiding blood clots if you are at high-risk, such as:
- Do not sit for long periods without getting up to move around to exercise your legs. If it is impossible to get out of your seat and walk, then fidget around and change your sitting position frequently.
- Wear compression stockings or support stockings.
- Blood thinners
- Drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
- Lose weight if you are over your ideal body weight range. Speak to your doctor first.
- If you are a smoker, quit smoking.
- If you recently had surgery, get up and move as soon as your doctor gives you the ok.
Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism
If you suspect a possible pulmonary embolism need to go to the nearest hospital emergency room for immediate treatment. The emergency room doctor will likely treat any shock you may experience and provide you with oxygen.
The doctor will likely give you some sort of anticoagulant medication to try to dissolve the clot. There are many such medications in the marketplace, such as but not limited to the most common, warfarin. Other medicines may include Enoxaparin or Heparin.
The nurse will keep your legs elevated and apply compression stocking to your legs, or rubber wraps that constantly inflate and deflate with air that massages your legs to keep blood flowing. It is also crucial to exercise when the doctor says to do so.
If for some reason you cannot take anticoagulant therapy the doctor may place an IVCF into the vein to prevent further blood clots.