In the event of blood clot in the lungs, one may experience shortness of breath and chest pain which is called pulmonary embolism. The clot may be small or big. Big clots are fatal if left untreated. Clots can cause damage to the lungs by restricting the flow of blood and oxygen and also damage other parts of the body.
One may wonder how blood clots can reach the lungs. Blood clots are formed in the body due to deep vein thrombosis. Such clots are formed in the legs or pelvis and they travel to the lungs where they block the movement of blood.
Many risk factors have been related to pulmonary embolism. One of the main cause is cancer. Other causes of pulmonary embolism are heart attack, stroke, and fracture of pelvic bones, blood clotting diseases that run in families along with obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and age.
Symptoms associated with pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, anxiety, chest pain extending to the arms, neck and hands, bluish skin, irregular heartbeat, weak pulse, rapid heartbeat and breathing.
If one notices any of these symptoms they should consult a pulmonologist immediately. The concerned practitioner will recommend tests like electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, pulmonary angiography, venography and duplex venous ultrasound.
Once the clot is identified then the doctor will prescribe medicines depending on the size and location of the clot. Medicines include anti-coagulants and clot dissolvers. Sometimes surgery is the only way to remove the clots.
Those who have been treated for pulmonary embolism should be treated for deep vein thrombosis to prevent formation of clots. This is a follow up treatment to prevent recurrence of pulmonary embolism.