Our veins play a vital role in carrying blood towards our heart. However, there are certain complications that threaten our veins. One of these is Pulmonary Embolism. According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, 100,000 to 180,000 Americans die due to pulmonary embolism every year. Thus, they urge the people, especially women to learn about the risks of pulmonary embolism and other venous disorders.
Pulmonary Embolism happens where there is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. It is commonly caused by Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot formed in the veins deep in the body. These blood clots usually start in the legs or pelvis. According to WebMD, more than 300,000 acquire pulmonary embolism, in which one-third of them dies if left undiagnosed or untreated. Thus, it is important to immediately consult a doctor.
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism can vary greatly, depending on the size of the clots, how much of your lung is affected, and whether you have underlying health complications. These are common symptoms of pulmonary embolism:
Shortness of breath – Since pulmonary embolism affects your lungs, you will experience shortness of breath which always gets worse with exertion.
Chest pain – You will also experience a chest pain, as if like you are having a heart attack. The pain may also get worse when you breathe, cough, eat or bend and usually won’t go away even if you rest.
Cough – The cough may produce blood or pink, foamy mucus.
Other symptoms may include fever, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, anxiety, heart palpitations, dizziness, discolored skin, and leg pain or swelling.
Causes and Risk Factors
As mentioned earlier, pulmonary embolism is caused by a blocked artery in the lungs which is commonly known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These blood clots make it difficult for the lungs to provide oxygen to the rest of the body. Blockages in the blood vessels can also be caused by certain substances, including fat from the marrow of a broken bone, air bubbles, part of a tumor, collagen and other tissues.
An individual will also beat a higher risk if they have family members who experience pulmonary embolism and other venous disorders. Some medical conditions also increase the risk of an individual. Cardiovascular disorders, especially heart failure produces clot formation in your heart. Certain cancers can also increase the levels of substances that promote blood clot formation. Even chemotherapy increases the risk. Further, surgery is found one of the leading causes of blood clots in the body that’s why surgeons advise medication to prevent major clots after the surgery.
Apart from medical conditions, certain activities also increase our risk to pulmonary embolism. Bed rest or spending too much time in bed may affect your blood flow and may increase your risk to heart failure and obesity. Long trips can also slow down the blood flow in the legs which may contribute to blood clot formation.
Other risk factors include smoking, pregnancy, obesity and taking birth control pills.