What are the warning signs of Pulmonary Embolism (PE)?

  • Unexplained sudden onset of shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • Lightheadedness, fainting or dizziness.
  • Rapid pulse
  • Coughing up blood

Why does it happen?

These clots in the deep veins form due to any reason that prevents your blood from circulating properly or there is a breakdown in the cotting mechanism of the blood.

Who is more prone?

There are many factors that increase the risk of developing DVT and the more the factors you possess the higher the risk.

  • Inheriting a blood clotting disorder – Many people possess the factors that can cause DVT but mostly they are asymptomatic with normal clotting of blood until it is combined with another risk factor.
  • Prolonged bed rest like prolonged hospital stay or paralysis. In both these conditions the calf muscles, which are also called external hearts, as they pump the blood back to the heart against gravity. When there is no movement as in paralysis or prolonged hospital admission there is a very high chance of developing DVT.
  • Injury or surgery – Injury to the veins during an accident or surgery increases the chances of blood clot formation.
  • Pregnancy – This compresses the pelvic veins causing stagnation of the venous blood in the legs. Women with inherited clotting disorders are at increased risk. This risk continues for 6 weeks after delivery.
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy – they both increase your blood ability to form clots.
  • Obesity – this increases the pressure on the pelvic veins and limb veins.
  • Smoking – Affects blood clotting and circulation with an increased risk of DVT.
  • Cancer – some cancers increase certain substances in the blood that cause clot formation. Some types of cancer treatment also increase the risk of blood clot formation.
  • Heart failure –these patients have a greater risk of DVT. In such patients, even a small PE is very noticeable.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis increase the risk.
  • A family or personal history of DVT or PE increase the risk.
  • Age – over 60 increases the risk though no age is immune.
  • Sitting for long periods like driving or flying – The calf muscles stay stagnant for long promoting blood clot formation in the sinuses oft he calf muscles.
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