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Introduction to Pulmonary Embolism: Don’t Ignore This Potentially Fatal Respiratory Condition

Story at-a-glance

  • Pulmonary embolism is a potentially fatal disease that everyone should be aware of, even for those who are healthy
  • Everyone is equally at risk for pulmonary embolism, and your chances increase as you age. Once you reach 60 years old, your risk doubles every 10 years. There are also other factors that make you more susceptible to developing it

Pulmonary embolism is the sudden blockage of an artery in your lung caused by an embolus.1 An embolus is anything that travels through your blood vessels until it reaches a spot that stops the flow of blood.2 Since the lung is an organ essential to your day-to-day functions, anything that impedes it can lead to potentially fatal situations.3

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 people could be affected with pulmonary embolism every year, and 10 to 30 percent of those who develop symptoms will die within one month of diagnosis.4 In light of this information, it’s important to be aware of this disease to help reduce your risk and increase your chances of survival.5

Telltale Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism Everyone Should Know

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism are located in the chest area and hard to miss. Things to look out for include:6

Chest pain: A sharp, stabbing pain that worsens when you inhale.

Breathing problems: You may develop short breaths once an embolism occurs.

Coughing: Your coughs may eject blood-filled sputum.

Aside from the aforementioned symptoms, pulmonary embolism may cause other complications if left untreated. Examples include:7,8

Collapse: There’s a chance you may simply fall down due to the lack of blood flow caused by the clot.

Heart failure: The embolism may severely strain your heart, causing it to pump blood weaker than its normal capacity.

Pulmonary infarction: A portion of your lungs may suffer from tissue death.

Pleural effusion: A buildup of fluid may occur between the outside layer of the lungs and the inside layer of the chest cavity.

Who Is at Risk of Pulmonary Embolism?

Everyone is equally at risk for pulmonary embolism, and your chances increase as you age. Once you reach 60 years old, your risk doubles every 10 years. There are also other factors that make you more susceptible to developing it, such as:9

Cancer

The onset of cancer can increase the production of certain substances in your body that make you more vulnerable to blood clots.

Pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers are typically associated with pulmonary embolism.

Surgery

Blood clots are one of the main complications to watch out for after a surgery.

This usually occurs because patients are typically bed-ridden for a long time. When you stop moving, blood flows slower in your deep veins, which can result in a clot.10

Smoking

Cigarette smoking is closely associated with blood clots. Long-term abuse increases your chances of blood platelets sticking together and also damages the linings of your blood vessels, causing clots to form.11

Pregnancy

Pregnant women have a chance of developing blood clots due to the weight of the baby pressing on the pelvis, which can slow blood return from the legs.

Inactivity

Long periods of bed rest due to an injury, surgery or other serious diseases causes the flow of blood in your legs to slow down. Long trips or flights contribute to this risk as well.

Obesity

Obese people are at risk of blood clots because of genetic mutations related to blood coagulation factors caused by excess weight.12

Learn All About Pulmonary Embolism and What You Can Do About It From These Pages

Pulmonary embolism is a potentially fatal disease that everyone should be aware of, even for those who are healthy. Even Serena Williams, a world-renowned tennis player in peak physical form, was treated for the disease back in 2011.13 In the following pages, you’ll learn how to detect the symptoms and various risk factors of this condition. You’ll also discover how it is treated and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. Be sure to review the information carefully, because it may help you in the future.

MORE ABOUT PULMONARY EMBOLISM

Pulmonary Embolism: Introduction

What Is Pulmonary Embolism?

Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms

Pulmonary Embolism Causes

Pulmonary Embolism Types

Pulmonary Embolism Treatment

Pulmonary Embolism Prevention

Pulmonary Embolism FAQ


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What Is Pulmonary Embolism?

Sources and References

  • 1, 2 Medical News Today, “Pulmonary Embolism: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment” April 18, 2017
  • 3, 8 Patient, “Pulmonary Embolism”
  • 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots)”
  • 5 Everyday Health, “How Do You Know if It’s a Pulmonary Embolism?”
  • 6, 9 Mayo Clinic, “Pulmonary Embolism — Symptoms and Causes”
  • 7 WebMD, “Pulmonary Embolism — What Happens”
  • 10 WebMD, “Blood Clots After Surgery”
  • 11 American Heart Association, “Understand Your Risk of Excessive Blood Clotting”
  • 12 News-Medical.net, “Obesity and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)”
  • 13 Harvard Health Publications, “If Pulmonary Embolism Can Strike Serena Williams, It Can Ace Anyone” March 3, 2011
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