Pulmonary Embolism Symptoms

By kara
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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The pulmonary arteries carry deoxygenated blood away from your heart to the lungs. Oxygen exchange takes place in the capillaries, and the now-oxygenated blood flows back to the heart via the pulmonary veins. The heart then pumps the blood to the rest of the body, where the tissues crave the oxygen it carries. A pulmonary embolism interferes with this process by blocking the flow of blood to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. Not only does this disrupt the flow of blood to the lungs, it also prevents the heart from providing oxygen-rich blood to the other areas of the body that need it.

A pulmonary embolism is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, however, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are very similar to those of a heart attack. Doctors at the emergency room must quickly perform tests to diagnose the cause of the symptoms. It is possible to survive a PE, but the chances decrease the longer it takes to get treatment. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms and seek emergency help immediately.

1. DVT Blood Clots

Any substance that could block the flow of blood through the pulmonary arteries, such as air bubbles or tumor fragments, can become an embolism. However, the most common cause of PE is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs or, more rarely, the arms. The medical term for this condition is deep vein thrombosis. The clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it forms a pulmonary embolism that blocks the flow of blood.

Unfortunately, a DVT sometimes occurs without any symptoms at all. It can form a pulmonary embolism before you even know there is a problem. Other times, however, a DVT causes symptoms in the lower leg where clots usually occur. Due to a partial blockage of the vein, the calf may swell up and become red in the area of the clot. This may be accompanied by a persistent pain that is throbbing and feels like a cramp, or a sensation of tightness in the calf muscle. Symptoms of a DVT should be evaluated as soon as possible. If the clot is successfully treated, a pulmonary embolism may be avoided altogether.

Pulmonary Embolism

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