Friday, July 15, 2016

Pulmonary Embolism

Our lungs are vital for our survival; the slightest change could put us at risk for various complications and possible life-threatening situations.  A pulmonary embolism is one possible situation that could put us at risk for serious health complications.  A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage of one of the major blood vessels in your lungs; usually the blockage is a result of a blood clot.  Fortunately in most cases, the clots are small and are not deadly, but they can still cause significant damage to the lung.  However, if the clot that develops is large and completely stops the blood flow to your lungs, it could definitely be deadly.  Prompt treatment needs to occur in the case of a pulmonary embolism in order for you to have the best chances of survival, while reducing your risk of future problems. 

The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism to be aware of include:    

ü  Sudden shortness of breath
ü  Feeling of sharp chest pain that is worse when you take a deep breath or cough
ü  Coughing up pink, frothy mucus

Having a pulmonary embolism can also cause more general symptoms, which could also be mistaken for other conditions.  The more general symptoms include feeling anxious, experiencing an increase in sweating, feeling lightheaded, having a fast heart rate or complaining of palpitations.  Each one of us know our bodies the best; we should all be attentive to experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above.  If you were to observe any of the common signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism and notice they started suddenly and were severe, you should seek out medical attention right away.

In the majority of cases, a pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot that forms in the leg then it breaks loose and travels through the blood stream and lodges itself in the vessels of the lungs.  Most often, a blood clot in a vein that is close to the skin generally does not cause problems.  However, the blood clots that are within the deeper veins, such as deep vein thrombosis in the leg, can end up leading to pulmonary embolism. 

Any condition that increases your likelihood of forming blood clots can also increase your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism.  Some individuals are even born with a disorder where their blood clots too quickly.  Other factors that may increase your risk may include:

ü  Long periods of inactivity. 
v This can occur when you have to stay in bed for a time period following surgery or a serious illness, or when you sit for an extended time such as on a flight or during a long car trip.
ü  Recent surgery.
v Surgery that involves the legs, hips, abdominal area, or brain.
ü  Specific health conditions and situations.
v Cancer, heart failure, stroke or a severe infection can all increase the risk of clots forming and being carried to your lungs.
v Hormone therapy.
v Smoking
v Being an older adult, especially over the age of 65.
v Obesity.

Diagnosing you with a pulmonary embolism may prove to be rather difficult because some of the general symptoms are so similar to other health conditions such as a heart attack, panic attack, or pneumonia.  Based on your specific signs and symptoms, your health history, and any risk factors, certain diagnostic tests may be recommended for you in order to look for blood clots or rule out other causes of your symptoms.  Common tests to be prepared for could include a CT scan, an EKG, an ultrasound, and/or a MRI.  Your health provider will discuss the tests that are chosen for you in further detail. 

If after the diagnostic studies you are definitely diagnosed with having experienced a pulmonary embolism, your treatment will most likely consist of being prescribed an oral anticoagulant.   Anticoagulants are also referred to as blood thinners, although they really do not thin the blood; rather they work to prevent any new clots from forming and keep the existing clots from growing.  Depending on your situation you may take an anticoagulant for a few months, and other individuals may need to remain on it for the rest of their life.

If your pulmonary embolism situation is more life-threatening and is causing complete blockage, “clot-busting” medications referred to as thrombolytics may be used.  These medications will work to dissolve the existing clots quickly, but with the destruction of clots comes an increased risk of bleeding.  Surgery may also even be an option as the last resort.  An embolectomy will be performed, which is a procedure to remove the clot that has formed.  An embolectomy is a rather minimally invasive procedure.  Your health provider will determine which treatment route is the best for you.

Total Home Health has a program that will suit all your needs related to promotion of your health and prevention of a pulmonary embolism and the complications that could arise.  Our healthcare professionals at Total Home Health will work side by side with other members of your medical team in order to provide you with care that is continuously precise, and works to provide you with the most optimal outcomes.

If you have a pulmonary embolism once, you are more likely to experience it again.  Total Home Health understands how frightening this condition may be if left untreated.  Our professionals will be by your side to educate you on proper ways to take your anticoagulant medication and what other lifestyle habits you can adjust in order for your treatment to be the most effective.  Total Home Health would like to extend from our family to yours the following ways that you can help prevent blood clots strictly on your own without medical procedures, including:

ü  Avoid sitting for long periods.  Do your best to get up and move around at least every hour.
ü  If you ever have surgery, make sure you get up and moving as soon as you can.
ü  Drink extra fluids when you travel, do your best to avoid those with alcohol or caffeine.
ü  Wear compression stockings if you are at a higher risk to promote adequate circulation in your lower extremities.
ü  If you are prescribed blood thinners, you should take them exactly how your provider instructs you to do so for the best effects.

Enroll with Total Home Health today and we will bring our professional services into the comforts of your own home to provide you with the best care possible for your health condition.  Let’s get started today!

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