Pulmonary Embolism

PULMONARY EMBOLISM

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Introduction

Blood circulation within the body involves two distinct cycles or circuits. The first and shorter of the two is known as the pulmonary cycle. This is followed by the systemic cycle.

Deoxygenated blood collected by veins from all parts of the body is finally returned to the right side of the heart. The pulmonary cycle begins when the right ventricle of the heart pumps this venous blood into the lungs by means of the pulmonary artery. This is done so that the deoxygenated blood can again be refreshed with oxygen received from the alveoli of the lungs. When this is done, oxygenated blood from the lungs now travels to the left side of the heart. This completes the pulmonary circuit.

Oxygenated blood is now pumped by the left ventricle of the heart into the aorta which distributes it to all parts of the body through the arterial system and capillaries. Deoxygenated blood is then collected by veins and brought back to the right side of the heart once again. This second phase is known as systemic circulation.

 

What Is Thromboembolism?

The efficiency of blood circulation is dependent on the smooth and unobstructed flow of blood through arteries, veins, and capillaries. Oftentimes, our arteries become clogged with the deposition of a cholesterol plaque. This can make it difficult for blood to flow through. Other times, there may be a rupture or injury to an artery delivering blood to a certain organ or tissue, starving those cells of the oxygen and nutrients that they need. Yet another possibility is that the blood vessels could become blocked with a blood clot. The clot may have formed at the site itself or it may have been carried to the spot from elsewhere in the body. The latter situation is referred to as thromboembolism.

 

What Is Pulmonary Embolism?

PULMONARY EMBOLISM bleedingPulmonary embolism is one of the best-known examples of thromboembolism. It occurs when a blood clot carried along by the blood becomes firmly lodged in an artery in the lung.

One of the primary causes for this is a condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

Pulmonary embolism typically results in symptoms such as breathlessness and lightheadedness because the heart, and thereby the rest of the body, is unable to receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs in order to continue functioning.

This condition can have severe long-term consequences and it can also be fatal if the patient is not attended to in time.

 

 

What Causes Pulmonary Embolism?

This condition generally arises as a complication of deep vein thrombosis. The latter involves the formation of a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body, usually in the legs. This clot, or a piece of it, may come loose. It will then be carried along by the bloodstream, passing through the venous system until it finds its way into the pulmonary artery. It the clot is large enough, it can become lodged in the pulmonary artery or one of its branches, obstructing the flow of blood into the lungs.

Another way in which this can happen is when small clots progressively accumulate in the various branches of the pulmonary artery. The actual cause of the obstruction need not necessarily be a blood clot. It can also be an air bubble or a fat globule.

PULMONARY EMBOLISMRisk factors for deep vein thrombosis are applicable for pulmonary embolism as well:

  • Damage to the walls of the veins. This can happen when you have a habit of smoking.
  • Prolonged bed rest or immobility.
  • Having a family history of blood clots.
  • History of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
  • Trauma. This can include surgical trauma as well.
  • Hormone replacement therapy.
  • Having a blood clotting disorder.
  • Dehydration.
  • Heart disease.
  • Lung disease.
  • Vasculitis.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Hughes syndrome.
  • Obesity.
  • Taking oral contraceptives.
  • Being pregnant.
  • Having varicose veins.
  • Taking chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

 

What Symptoms Are To Be Expected?

Sometimes, the onset of symptoms is relatively gradual. It tends to begin with shortness of breath which can intensify progressively. Eventually, the patient also develops chest pain which can be quite severe. Sometimes, the condition is minor and temporary. The clot creating the obstruction may be small and it may resolve on its own. In instances of air or amniotic fluid embolism, the offending substances may get reabsorbed, resolving the obstruction.

When a person suffers from a pulmonary embolism, he or she may experience the following problems:

  • Breathlessness.
  • Chest pain.
  • Breathing rapidly.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded.
  • Dizziness.
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin.
  • Feeling restless or anxious.

 

What Are Some Likely Complications?

Pulmonary embolsim lungsThere can be a range of severe consequences when you have a pulmonary embolism. Receiving immediate medical help reduces the likelihood of developing complications. However, when the condition goes unrecognized or untreated, patients often do not survive.

The loss of blood supply to a certain section of lung tissue, unless promptly relieved, can cause permanent death of that section of tissue. This is known as infarction. When small clots accumulate progressively over an extended period of time, the patient will generally develop a condition known as pulmonary hypertension. This refers to elevated blood pressure within the lungs and even the right side of the heart. As a result, the patient could develop cardiac failure which may lead to death.

There is also the possibility of recurring embolism. Once the obstruction has been resolved, it can return unless the underlying problem has been rectified.

For instance, those who have suffered from one case of deep vein thrombosis are at a higher risk of experiencing a recurrence. And the more often that clots appear in the deep veins, the greater the likelihood of giving rise to pulmonary embolism.  

 

How Is Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed?

It is not very easy to correctly identify the condition based only on its symptoms. Hence, the patient may need to undergo specialized imaging tests. These will help to precisely locate the obstruction. The following procedures may be involved:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • D-Dimer test, a specialized blood test.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Echocardiogram.
  • Pulmonary angiogram.
  • Computerized tomography (CT).

 

What Is The Best Treatment? Is it preventable?

The first step involves making a correct diagnosis of the condition, identifying the nature and composition of the obstruction and the underlying cause for it. In case the blockage has been caused by blood clots, the immediate course of action would be to administer blood thinners to prevent more such clots from being formed. Some patients may require thrombolytic drugs in order to break down large clots.

Pulmonary embolism can develop swiftly and without prior warning. It is a medical emergency. However, the condition can also take on a chronic form and develop gradually as smaller clots pile up in the arteries of the lungs. The patient may notice progressive shortness of breath and chest pain. This can lead to high blood pressure in the lungs and heart which can cause more severe complications such as heart failure. Certain risk factors are modifiable and patients should take care to avoid these in order to prevent repeated occurrences.

 

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Use compression stockings (tight and long stockings) or inflatable boots that’s help in squeezing the muscles of the lower leg and improve blood circulation.
  • As soon as possible after a surgery, get out of the bed and start walking in order to prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Do leg exercises and move around more during flight journeys in order to prevent blood clots.
Don'ts
  • Miss the dosage of blood thinners prescribed after surgeries.
  • Ignore symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting or light-headedness.
  • Neglect the regular follow-up sessions after the surgery.

 

 

 

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Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
10 reasons why you should up your selenium intake Selenium, though a trace mineral, is very much integral to your health. Find out how much selenium intake…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Holistic Healing: How does it harmonize your mind, body, and soul? Holistic healing is not one healing method, holistic healing encompasses a variety of techniques such as reiki, accupuncture,…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
hemoglobin variant analysis
Hemoglobin Variant Analysis Hemoglobin variant analysis is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of hemoglobin variants which…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…

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