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Blood Clots

Blood cots are a normal part of the bodily process, primarily to help staunch bleeding and create scabs. However, large bodies of blood clots within veins, do not break down can travel to other parts of the body and create health issues such as a pulmonary embolism, or PE. 

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot travels, typically from the leg, to an artery in the lungs and blocks blood flow. Pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening without proper treatment. 

Risk Factors

One significant risk factor for a pulmonary embolism is if someone already suffers from deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. As the name suggests, the blood clots occur in the deep veins of the body, typically, the legs. These clots can travel from the legs to the lung's arteries, effectively blocking them. If someone has had PE before, have a higher chance of developing it a second time. 

Other risk factors include lack of movement, having a surgery or breaking a bone, smoking, and having certain diseases such as a stroke, paralysis, chronic heart disease, or high blood pressure. 



The symptoms for PE consist of shortness of breath, arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, coughing/coughing up blood, sweating, dizziness or fainting, and feelings of anxiety. Please keep in mind, sometimes the only symptoms for a PE might be the same symptoms for DVT; which are as follows: swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg, tenderness in the leg, increased warmth in the swollen area, red or discolored skin in the leg. 



If there are concerns for a pulmonary embolism, your healthcare provider will work to diagnose by first checking family history and eliminating other potential causes for the symptoms. After, they will order a test such as a blood test, chest x-ray, an ultrasound, a pulmonary angiogram, or a computed tomography scan. 



Depending on when the PE had been diagnosed or found, there are a few ways to treat it. The first being medications such as blood thinners, which will help decrease your blood's ability to create clots. In other cases, thrombolytics might also be utilized to dissolve the blood clot. If medications do not work, your healthcare professional might recommend a vena cava filter; the filter is inserted into a large vein and will catch blood clots before they can travel through the body. Should the PE become life-threatening, emergency services such as utilizing a catheter to remove the blood clot, or in rare instances, surgery might be needed to remove the clot.



In order to prevent a pulmonary embolism, lifestyle changes need to be made. Those changes include incorporating daily physical activity in your routine, drinking plenty of water, managing and maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing or quitting the use of tobacco. 

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