Pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. The blockage is due to a blood clot in the pulmonary artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary embolism is considered a potentially life-threatening and serious condition requiring immediate medical intervention. The seriousness of the condition varies with the size of the blood clot. The chance of surviving a pulmonary embolism is greater if it is small and you are diagnosed and treated quickly.
A pulmonary embolism is most often caused by a blood clot that originates in the veins that are deep in your legs. This condition is termed as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The factors that increase the chances of developing DVT and in turn causes pulmonary embolism are genetic inheritance, any major surgery in your medical history, cancer, hip or leg fractures, history of stroke or heart attack, obesity, smoking, taking contraceptive pills, etc.
The common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are sharp chest pain radiating towards your shoulder, neck, arm and jaws; coughing; shortness of breath; sweating; dizziness; restlessness; anxiety; fast heart beat; fainting and feeling lightheaded.
After conducting a history and physical examination, your doctor may order tests for chest X-ray and ECG. CT scan, D-Dimer, venography and ultrasound may be required to determine the extent of the problem. You might also be recommended to undergo pulmonary angiography to get a clear picture of blood vessels.
There are various effective treatment methods for pulmonary embolism. Treatment is started immediately after diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (or even before final results are in if your doctor is fairly sure). Oxygen is given immediately to aid the breathlessness. The physician will advise the best treatment option depending on the severity of your condition. Various options include:
Your doctor may recommend anticoagulant medication for thinning the blood. Anticoagulants prevent the formation of new clots and break/dissolves up the clots that are already formed.
Your doctor places medical filters in the large vein (inferior vena cava) by inserting it via a thin tube. This procedure may be recommended to prevent further PE’s or if you are a person where anticoagulant treatment is contraindicated (pregnant).
Catheter Directed Thrombolysis and or Thrombectomy
This involves insertion of a catheter to deliver a high pressure stream of saline solution to break up the clot to be suctioned out in a co-axial lumen or to deliver clot dissolving medication as well as mechanical action and suction. Sometimes instruments on the end of the catheter are also used to mechanically break up the clot.
Prevention of pulmonary embolism starts with prevention of DVT. The wearing of compression garments or intermittent pneumatic compression during and after surgery is very important as is avoiding long periods of inactivity.
All treatments done at Vein Remedies are made to be ‘Walk in Walk out’ – by getting patients ambulating soon after they have had procedures, the risk of DVT and thus PE, is dramatically reduced. We have NEVER had one occur after Endovenous laser or Ambulatory Phlebectomy.