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A pulmonary embolism is a cardiovascular disease that causes a blockage within the pulmonary artery.
These sorts of blockages, which are usually blood clots, can form anywhere in the body, and are not a problem until they encounter a vessel or artery that is too narrow to allow the embolus to pass through it. Similar clots that block blood flow in other areas of the body are known as a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
A pulmonary embolism derives its name from the exact artery that is affected by the blockage, which is the pulmonary artery. This artery is responsible for providing blood to the lungs. The importance of the pulmonary artery is what makes a pulmonary embolism such a serious and deadly occurrence.
Know the Signs of a Pulmonary Embolism
It is advised to seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms, as they are likely the beginnings of a pulmonary embolism:
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the chest that worsens with an intake of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Recurrent coughing, possibly with blood
- Quickening or irregular heartbeat
Overview of Treatment
Pulmonary embolisms often come on very quickly, leaving doctors little time to treat the condition. If a pulmonary embolism is spotted prior to a sudden attack, or after the highest-risk period has passed, then your physician will begin treatment by trying to shrink or remove the blockage in addition to starting preventative treatment for future embolisms.
Anticoagulant medications often work well to keep dangerous blood clots from forming, though they pose an added risk for potential excessive bleeding to occur. Attempts to compress the legs is also a popular preventive measure taken to avoid blood clots, as this compression will force the blood into the deep veins of the body instead of leaving it to pool and clot near the surface of the skin.
The individual’s lifestyle can also have a very significant impact on their risk for developing a pulmonary embolism. People who are not maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, or have been long-time smokers are among those most likely to experience a life-threatening blood clot.