Pulmonary Embolism Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
What Is a Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary embolism (PE), also known as lung embolism, is a blockage in one of the arteries that transports oxygen-rich blood to the lungs. When a blockage occurs, it can cause the affected portion of the lung to die due to low oxygen levels and damage other organs in your body.
Most often, lung embolisms are caused by blood clots that form in the legs—referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—that break loose and travel to the lungs; more rarely, PE occurs when other substances—like amniotic fluid—block the artery.
Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition and can be life-threatening without prompt treatment. If you have symptoms of PE, or have a history of blood clots, it is important to meet with a healthcare practitioner who understands your unique health needs. To meet with a practitioner in Phoenix who specializes in pulmonary embolism treatment, call (480) 961-2366 or contact Kevin Chan online.
Pulmonary Embolism Causes & Risk Factors
A blood clot is your body's attempt to repair damage to a blood vessel and can form due to injury or periods of immobility, such as after surgery or during extended travel in a car or airplane. Deep vein thrombosis is usually the precipitating factor in pulmonary embolism, and multiple blood clots may be involved—all at once or one after another—blocking the arteries that supply oxygen to the lungs.
PE can also form when other substances block an artery and cut off the oxygen supply. These additional pulmonary embolism causes include:
- Amniotic fluid
- Air bubbles
- Segments of tumors
- Fat released from the bone marrow due to a broken bone
The chance of developing pulmonary embolism increases with age. Certain lifestyle behaviors and health conditions can also contribute to an increased risk of developing the condition. These pulmonary embolism risk factors include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Damaged blood vessels
- Diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure, or heart disease
- History of pulmonary embolism or DVT
- Estrogen therapy
Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms
Lung embolism symptoms can vary greatly depending on the size of the clot and the part of the lung it affects. The most commonly experienced pulmonary embolism symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Pale or bluish skin color
- Sweating or clammy skin
- Leg pain or swelling
- Coughing (may include sputum)
Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosis
A physical examination—together with your medical history, a review of your symptoms and certain testing—will play a role in making a pulmonary embolism diagnosis. Tests your healthcare provider may use to confirm your diagnosis include:
- D-dimer, a blood test that measures a substance released to dissolve blood clots; high D-dimer might suggest PE
- Pulmonary angiogram, a test which injects dye through a catheter inserted into a large vein to show how blood flows through the blood vessels in the lungs
- Lung ventilation/perfusion scan (VQ scan), which uses a radioactive substance to measure airflow to the lungs
- Imaging tests like a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to locate blood clots in the lungs or legs
Lung Embolism Treatment
Treatment for pulmonary embolism focuses on breaking up or removing existing blood clots and preventing future clots from forming. The invasiveness of treatment is dependent on the size of the clot and its location.
The most common lung embolism treatments include:
- Blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medications to prevent new clot formation
- Clot-dissolving (thrombolytic) medications to assist with breaking down the clot
- Compression stockings to force blood into deep veins and prevent clotting
- Pulmonary embolism surgery to remove a blood clot or improve blood flow to the heart or lungs in emergency situations
Depending on your needs, your healthcare practitioner may recommend a combination of treatments. To prevent future occurrences of PE, your provider may suggest changes to your diet and activity level, as well as to quit smoking tobacco.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of pulmonary embolism, seek immediate medical attention. To learn more about how to prevent blood clots and pulmonary embolism, especially if you have significant risk factors or a family history of pulmonary embolism, call (480) 961-2366 or contact Kevin Chan online.
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