Pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to the lungs. The blockage occurs due to a blood clot that travels from the legs, or other parts from the body, to the lungs. Generally, there are more blood clots, it’s not only one.
The symptoms of a pulmonary vary from person to person, although the common symptoms are:
- Coughing dry, but sometimes there may be blood or mucus with blood
- Shortness of breath – can appear suddenly or gradually
- Chest pain – strong, similar to heart attack, becomes worse when breathing in; it doesn’t go away during rest
- Leg pain and/or swelling
- Cyanosis, due to lack of oxygen
- Excessive sweating
The cause of pulmonary embolism is blockage of the pulmonary artery by blood clots. occurs when a clump of material, most often a blood clot, gets wedged into an artery in your lungs. These blood clots mostly travel from the deep veins of your legs, but they can also come from other parts of your body. Blood clots can also form from inactivity (for e.g. when people suffer from a stroke or had operation or even long-distance travel), blood vessel damage, blood that easily clots (caused by a condition like heart failure, thrombophilia, cancer, or Hughes syndrome), age, family history, previous blood clot, obesity, pregnancy, smoking.
Other causes which can block the pulmonary artery are: air bubbles, fat from the marrow of a broken long bone, part of a tumor.
The factors that increase the risk of developing pulmonary embolism are:
- Family history
- Medical conditions like cancer and chemotherapy
- Heart disease
- Longer immobility, due to an illness or surgery
- Estrogen in hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills
A complication from pulmonary embolism is pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure in the lungs. In this case, the heart needs to work harder. In smaller number of cases, chronic thrombotic pulmonary embolism can develop from frequent development of small emboli.
If your condition may increase the risk of pulmonary embolism, the following should be undertaken as prevention: anticoagulants, compression stockings, increase mobility, and healthy lifestyle. As pulmonary embolism may occur even without a certain medical condition, for e.g. during long journey, you could drink plenty of liquids, take a break from sitting, move your legs during long flights, or wear support stockings.