Blood Clot In Lung – Known As Pulmonary Embolism
The medical term for a blood clot in lung is Pulmonary Embolism. Pulmonary is the medical term for things related to the lung. Embolism here refers to the blood clot that has traveled and become stuck in the arteries of the lung. A blood clot in the lung is both common and serious and can be fatal if not treated appropriately.
Read about pulmonary embolism including diagnosis and treatments in detail here.
A Blood Clot In Lung – A Serious Issue
A blood clot in the lung is a very serious issue and a leading cause of death. There are almost a million cases of this every year in the US. One in three blood clots in the lung will eventually result in death. A blood clot in the lung can result in lower life expectancy and decreased quality of life.
Blood Clot In Lung – How Does It Get There?
It all starts as a blood clot that forms in the vein of the leg. Blood has to travel through the veins to get back to the heart. From the heart blood is pumped to the lungs to get oxygen. The blood clot in the leg can detach and travel up through the veins all the way to the heart. The clot then travels through the heart to the arteries of the lungs where it gets stuck and can have serious consequences.
Read about blood clot in leg including diagnosis and treatment here.
Blood Clot In Lung – Why Does A Blood Clot Happen?
As we said before, blood clots typically form in the veins of the leg before they travel up the body to give a blood clot in the lung. There are many things that can lead to this happening. These include damage or trauma to the leg, periods of immobilization, ongoing illness, hospitalization, cancer and certain medications such as hormones and contraceptives. The presence of clotting disorders will also increase the risk. Such disorders are relatively common and can be inherited.
Blood Clot In Lung – Why It’s So Dangerous
When blood clot gets trapped in the lung it can lead to several consequences. The blood clot can lead to greatly increased pressures on the right side of the heart and lead to the right side of the heart simply failing. If the blood clot in the lung is large enough this can lead to severely low blood pressures, fatal heart rhythms, problems getting oxygen to the blood and even death.
Symptoms of Blood Clot In Lung
Common symptoms of a blood clot in lung include shortness of breath, chest pain that is worse with breathing, symptoms worse with activity, passing out and a sense of breathlessness and doom. As mentioned before a blood clot in the lung begins with a blood clot that starts in the veins of the leg. This can lead to leg swelling, redness, cramping and pain.
Diagnosing a Blood Clot In Lung
When a blood clot in lung is suspected patients should be sent to an emergency department for evaluation. The most widely used test, and the one considered the best test is a CT scan called a CT pulmonary angiogram. This can give us not only a diagnosis of blood clot in lung, but also information about the extent of the clot. An ultrasound scan of the heart known as an echocardiogram may be performed to give information on how the right side of the heart responds to the clot. In addition, blood tests (such as troponin and D-dimer) and ultrasound scans of the leg can provide important information.
Treating a Blood Clot In Lung
In some cases, blood clots in lungs are so large and serious emergency treatment is needed to keep people alive. These are known as massive pulmonary embolisms and patients will present with sudden death, or in severe shock. Treatment of a massive blood clot in lung may include clot-busting medications, open-heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery or use of a life support machine. For those clots in lung that are not massive but still large, treatments such as clot busting medications or minimally invasive procedures may still be used in cases considered to be of high risk. In most cases of blood clot in lung however, the mainstay of treatment will be blood-thinning medications. These will often need to be taken for a period ranging from 6 months to life long depending on the circumstances. The cause of the clot will need to be found and treated appropriately.