FAQ - Pulmonary Embolism
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Pulmonary Embolism?

I have pulmonary embolism but I'm having tightness in my chest my doc said it could be a musclar issue but she doesnt know whats causing it. It comes and goes but I do get scared. Could this be apart of P.E.? I do take meds which are blood thinners. Can anyone give me some good advise


Prompt treatment of venous thromboembolism — the term used to refer to both pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis — is essential in order to prevent serious complications or death. Initially you'll receive the fast-acting anticoagulant heparin, which helps prevent existing clots from enlarging and stops the formation of new ones. Your doctor is also likely to prescribe the anticoagulant warfarin. It also helps stop clot formation, but because it works less quickly than heparin does, it's used in conjunction with the other drug.

After the original clot has dissolved, you'll likely continue to take an anticoagulant medication. How long depends on your particular case. If you have a chronic disorder that puts you at high risk of pulmonary embolism, you may need to stay on these drugs indefinitely. In general, though, you take them for at least six months.

As with all medications, the benefits of anticoagulants need to be weighed against the risks. Heparin and warfarin reduce your chance of developing blood clots, but because they also may prevent normal blood coagulation, they increase your risk of bleeding complications. Many of these complications are minor, such as bleeding from your gums, but some may be severe and life-threatening. If you're on warfarin, your doctor will ask you to have periodic blood tests to check how well the drug is working.

During anticoagulant therapy, avoid using aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, which also affect your blood's ability to clot. Because over 100 other drugs, including over-the-counter medications and some herbs, can interact with anticoagulants, be sure your doctor knows all the medications you're taking.

When pulmonary embolism is life-threatening
If you experience a massive pulmonary embolism, if you have worsening cardiopulmonary disease, or if other treatments aren't effective, one of the following therapies may be an option:

* Clot-dissolving (thrombolytic) therapy. Rather than simply preventing clot formation, medications such as streptokinase, urokinase and the tissue plasminogen activator alteplase actually dissolve clots. They work by activating an enzyme that breaks down blood clots and are sometimes popularly referred to as "clotbusters." You're not a candidate for these drugs if you are pregnant, have had a recent stroke, have severe high blood pressure or have undergone surgery within the past 10 days. Thrombolytic medications increase your risk of bleeding, especially from recent wounds, at needle puncture sites and in your digestive tract, but bleeding can occur anywhere, including your gums when you brush your teeth. Some bleeding may be fatal, especially if bleeding occurs in the brain.
* Vein filter. To prevent clots from being carried into the pulmonary artery, a radiologist may surgically place a filter in the main vein (inferior vena cava) in your abdomen leading from your legs and pelvis to the right side of your heart.
Illustration showing support stockings and stocking butler Support stockings

Although more than 2 million Americans develop blood clots in their veins every year, many cases of DVT and pulmonary embolism can be prevented with a few simple measures. Some of these measures are used in hospitals. Others are precautions you can take yourself.

Preventive steps in the hospital
Because DVT often gives few, if any warnings, doctors must take steps to help prevent blood clots in people recovering from a heart attack, stroke or surgery:

* Heparin or warfarin therapy. Anticoagulants such as heparin and warfarin are given to people at risk of clots both before and after an operation as well as to people admitted to the hospital with a heart attack, stroke or complications of cancer.
* Graduated compression stockings. Compression stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. They offer a safe, simple and inexpensive way to keep blood from stagnating after general surgery. Compression stockings used in combination with heparin are much more effective than is heparin alone.
* Use of pneumatic compression. This treatment uses thigh-high cuffs that automatically inflate every few minutes to massage and compress the veins in your legs. Pneumatic compression can dramatically reduce the risk of blood clots, especially in people who have had hip replacement surgery.
* Physical activity. Moving as soon as possible after surgery can help prevent pulmonary embolism and hasten recovery overall.

Preventive steps while traveling
Sitting during a long flight or automobile ride increases your risk of developing blood clots in the veins of your legs. To help prevent a blood clot from forming:

* Take a walk. Move around the airplane cabin once an hour or so. If you're driving, stop every hour and walk around the car a couple of times or do a few deep knee bends.
* Exercise while you sit. Flex and rotate your ankles or press your feet against the seat in front of you, or try rising up and down on your toes. And don't sit with your legs crossed for long periods of time.
* Wear support stockings. These help promote circulation and fluid movement. What's more, compression stockings no longer look like something your grandmother would wear — they're available in a range of stylish colors and textures.
* Drink plenty of fluids before and during the trip. Water is the best liquid for preventing dehydration, which can contribute to the development of blood clots. Avoid alcohol, which contributes to fluid loss.
* Talk to your doctor. If you're at high risk of blood clots and plan to fly six hours or more, your doctor may recommend taking low-molecular-weight heparin two to four hours before your departure.  (+ info)

pulmonary embolism?

My Daughter has a clot in both of her lungs, this is the results of an accident, with a hit and run driver. Also she had her spleen removed. I am worried about the clots in her lungs, will she be able to survive this?

there is a good chance she will.. just keep in check with the dr to make sure everything is going as it should.. they should have put her on some type of medication that could disolve the clots...  (+ info)

What are symptoms of a pulmonary embolism?

Hi. A couple of years ago I went to the doctors about a cough I've always had. They did blood work and a chest X-Ray but found nothing. Now recently I found out that my mothers father died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 33. What I'm wondering is if this cough I have is related to a pulmonary embolism. Also, is a pulmonary embolism genetic?

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism include (in rough order of prevalence) pleuritic chest pain (pain worst in breathing in), shortness of breath, fever, fast heart rate, cough with/without blood. Large pulmonary emboli can result in low blood pressure and the attendant symptoms - dizziness, blackouts, loss of consciousness, etc.

A cough without any other of the above symptoms is quite unlikely to be due to a pulmonary embolus. The tendency to form blood clots (and hence having a higher risk of embolus) can indeed be genetic - there are blood tests to screen for some of the more common conditions, but having a normal test doesn't mean that you are not at increased risk, particularly given your family history.

Aspirin is a cheap drug that may be beneficial in lowering your risk of a pulmonary embolus - but I would hasten to add that there is no solid trial evidence for its effectiveness in this context.  (+ info)

When is it safe to travel after a pulmonary embolism?

A friend visiting from Europe developed a pulmonary embolism after a surgery. She has been started on a blood thinner. When is it safe for her to fly back home?

Never. She needs to become an American citizen and stay here forever. Or at least take a boat home and not a plane. LOL  (+ info)

Is it possible to get a Pulmonary Embolism while on Warfarin if you've already had one?

I sufford from a Pulmonary Embolism while is hospital about 3 months ago. I am now on Warfarin for 6 months but I am wondering is it possible to get another Pulmonary Embolism whilst on it. Every time i get shortness of breath or pain in my leg i panic! Sensible answers only please! Also, after Warfarin, will i be at a greater risk of getting one even if I'm active?

It is possible, but not likely. When you're on warfarin, you should be having blood tests called a P.T. (Prothrombin Time) and a P.T.T. (Partial Prothrombin Time) which lets your Dr. know if you're blood is anti-coagulated enough. That way the Dr. can adjust your dose when needed. I had a blood clot in my leg that broke off and went into my lungs and my MD had me take these tests weekly for 10 years. I felt the same way you do for many years, but if you have these tests done, that should make you feel less panicked.

Also, there is a new injectable medication now called Lovenox, which acts immediately.

If you're not having these tests done, you should be.  (+ info)

Is a Pulmonary Embolism the same thing as a heart attack?

I'ms tudying for a fnial, and I know a myocardial infarction is the same thing as a heart attack, and the pulmonary embolism is incredibly similar to both in definition. I'm looking for somebody to clarify for me.
Thanks guys. that cleared it up. the pulmonary part shoulda given it away.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lung, which will certainly kill you but it's not a heart attack.  (+ info)

I recently had a pulmonary embolism, currently on warfrin. What are the risks of getting pregnant?

I am concerned about what complications might arrise if I were to get pregnant after my warfrin treatment. Complications for the baby and for myself...Is it ok to have another child after a pulmonary embolism and being on warfrin or are there too many risks invloved?

I have a genetic blood clotting disorder. The disorder predisposes me to having DVT's. I've had 4. Luckily, they were caught early and didn't end up going into a pulmonary embolism. Each time, I was placed on coumadin (warfrin) for at least 6 months.
The first time I got pregnant, I was on the blood thinner. I found out I was pregnant at 6 weeks. I miscarried 2 days later. I lost so much blood, I needed transfusions.
My doctor told me Warfrin causes miscarriages in a lot of women. He advised that if I wanted to become pregnant,
to stop the Warfrin and start Lovonox injections instead.
The injections have to be given in the stomach every day,
usually twice a day. They hurt a lot. There is intense burning
feeling afterwards for a couple of hours. Most injection sites bruise badly.
Having had a blood clot, that makes you high risk, so they will insist on the shots every day for the entire 9 months of pregnancy and after if you want to breastfeed.
The downside of Lovenox is that it is very expensive. Over $3000.00 for a month's supply retail. If you have Medicaid,
they'll pay for all of it. If you have private insurance with a prescription copay, you'll just have your copay, unless you hit the max for prescriptions in a year.
They will probably insist on a planned C-section, because your heart and lungs probably won't deal very well with the strain of labor. They won't let you have an epidural and be awake during it, though. You'll get general because of the risk of bleeding around your spine from the Lovenox, iif they gave you the epidural.
Bed rest for the last 6 months of the pregnancy is very probable, too. Been there, done that.
I've had 2 children that are both very heathy toddlers, now.
They are 17 months apart in age.
I had Lovenox shots with them both, bed rest for 6 months with my first, 4 with the second.
If you really want another child and are willing to deal with the risks, it is very very worth it.
As for getting pregnant on warfrin, highly risky....you'll miscarry 80 percent of the time....birth defects for the other 20. Lots of blood loss for you, could be very serious, if not fatal.
Stop the warfrin, go on Lovenox ...then get pregnant, is a better option.  (+ info)

What are the chances of having another stroke and pulmonary embolism if you smoke weed?

I suffered a stroke and pulmonary embolism three months ago? I dont smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol but I did used to smoke weed?

ScienceDaily (June 14, 2001) — BOSTON – Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and their colleagues have found that people who smoke marijuana may increase their risk of a heart attack. In a study of nearly 4,000 people who had suffered a heart attack, the researchers observed that a person’s chance of having a heart attack, particularly those who are already at risk for heart disease, increased nearly five times during the first hour after smoking marijuana.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010612065616.htm  (+ info)

Why is a Pulmonary Embolism bad for you?

I have a blood clot in my aorta veins and the doctors were so concerned that I might have a pulmonary embolism already had a cat scan of my chest and everything was fine I just got off lovenox shots and take coumadin once a day.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of pulmonary embolism can be mild or severe. Some people have many small emboli that can only be detected by special X-ray techniques. A serious blockage, however, can lead to severe breathing difficulty or death.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolism appear suddenly and include:

shortness of breath, rapid breathing, or wheezing
bloody sputum
lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
sharp chest pain or back pain
http://www.medbroadcast.com/channel_condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=50&channel_id=2022&relation_id=16214&rot=4&rating=4  (+ info)

How bad is a pulmonary embolism?

So my dad has just been admitted to the hospital for a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in his lung. Can anyone tell me how bad these are? He had open heart surgery about a year ago because he had a leaking heart valve. He had a seizure about a year ago but they were never actually sure if it was a seizure or a stroke. He takes blood thinners everyday since his heart surgery. Thanks in advance for your help.
My dad already takes cumiden. He has been taking it for a year since his heart surgery.

Pulmonary embolisms are potentially life threatening - the seriousness is almost pure chance. If a clot is big enough or lasts longs enough to block the blood flow in the pulmonary artery, it usually triggers a severe or fatal heart attack. The blood thinners probably saved your dad's life, or at least kept the embolism from causing any additional problems.

An embolism doesn't have any lasting effects - whatever damage it did, if any, occurs within a few minutes. Otherwise, the only lasting danger is the risk of having another embolism in the future.   (+ info)

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