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Pulmonary Embolism

Tuesday, November 7, 2006


Additional Resources

Pulmonary Embolism - Tuesday, November 7, 2006Deep venous thrombosis or DVT is the development of blood clots in the deeps veins in the body, usually in the legs. This condition can be silent, or it may only produce minor symptoms, such as calf pain or leg swelling. It is serious, and can lead to life-threatening pulmonary embolism or PE, which refers to a blood clot that has traveled to the lungs. About 10% of people with pulmonary embolism die within the first hour, and this condition remains a major cause of hospital deaths. Prolonged bedrest, such as following surgery, can lead to DVT and PE, but so can long plane flights, pregnancy, birth control pills, and being overweight.

Pulmonary embolism or PE is a frequent cause of sudden unexpected death, being second only to heart disease. It is the third most common cause of death in the U.S. PE refers to a blood clot or clots which have traveled through the bloodstream to the lungs. It is usually is preceded by blood clots that develop in the legs, especially following a period of inactivity. Symptoms of PE may include shortness of breath (either at rest or during activity) and chest pain that can mimic a heart attack. A cough producing bloody sputum is also a warning sign. Early diagnosis is important.

Treatment for most patients with pulmonary embolism will include blood thinners, to allow the body to dissolve clots and prevent additional ones from forming. Prolonged bedrest can predispose to blood clots in the legs, as can long plane flights and extended trips. When traveling, take frequent breaks. Get up and walk around. Stay hydrated, and do simple stretching exercises, such as ankle turns, foot lifts, and shoulder rolls, while seated.

Check out the following links for more information about pulmonary embolism:

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