As a doesn’t health threat, a blood clot, has led to over 100,000 annual deaths in the United States alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. Anyone can suffer from a blood clot. There are warning signs you need to be aware of, so you know the precautions you can take if you are at risk for developing a blood clot as well as prevention for PE.
What is a Pulmonary Embolism?
Your blood flows from your heart to your lungs through your pulmonary artery. When your blood goes into your lungs, the lung supplies the blood with oxygen; it then travels back to your heart, which pumps blood to the rest of your body.
When a clot gets caught in one of the arteries that goes from your heart to your lungs, it is known as a pulmonary embolism. The clot blocks the normal flow of the blood through your body. Because the clot can block the blood flow to your lungs, it can be life-threatening. However, if you seek medical help right away, you will significantly reduce your risk of death.
What are the Symptoms of a Potential PE?
If an artery in your lung becomes blocked by a blood clot, you have a pulmonary embolism. While symptoms can vary depending on the size of the clot you have or if you have pre-existing health issues, you should seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Leg pain or swelling, usually in your calf
- Chest pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Pain in your back
- Cough that may be bloody or blood in the phlegm
- Sweat more than usual
- Lightheaded and feel like you might pass out
- Blue lips or nails
How to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism?
While anyone can develop a blood clot, certain factors put you at a higher risk for developing a pulmonary embolism. Some factors that put you at a higher risk include:
If you have a family history of blood clots or pulmonary embolisms.
- Heart disease – cardiovascular disease or heart failure
- Cancer – Certain cancers, especially pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer. Chemotherapy will also increase your risk.
- Surgery – One of the most leading causes of blood clots. Medication is given to help prevent a blood clot from forming both before and after surgery.
- Inactivity – If you are inactive for long periods, gravity causes your blood to become stagnate in your lower extremities, which can lead to a blood clot.
In order to lower your risk of developing pulmonary embolism, there are ways to help prevent them including:
- Blood thinners – Blood thinners are given to patients that are at risk of blood clots. Often these patients have complications from cancer, heart attack, or stroke.
- Compression stockings – During and after surgery, compression stockings are used as a safe and inexpensive way to prevent stagnation of the blood. They help the blood flow in your veins.
- Elevation of the legs – While in bed, make sure to elevate your legs at least six inches.
- Pneumatic compression – This also helps improve the blood flow by squeezing and massaging the veins in the legs. During the treatment of Pneumatic compression, the use of calf-high, or even thigh-high cuffs which will also reduce the risk of PE from occurring.
- Physical activity – Make sure to exercise on a regularly.
- Quit smoking – When you stop smoking, it can significantly reduce your chance of developing a blood clot.
Make sure you are aware of the warning signs of a potential blood clot and take precautions if you are at high risk for a pulmonary embolism.