What Are the Different Pulmonary Embolism Guidelines?

N. Swensson
N. Swensson
When a blood clot blocks an artery in a lung, the resulting pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition.
When a blood clot blocks an artery in a lung, the resulting pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition.

A pulmonary embolism is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a blood clot enters the lung and blocks an artery. As this can be a very serious health problem, it is important to be familiar with the pulmonary embolism guidelines and symptoms, which can include coughing up bloody mucous and sudden shortness of breath. Usually, the blood clot forms in the leg, which is called deep vein thrombosis, and travels through the body to the lung. Although anyone can develop a pulmonary embolism, some groups are more at risk, including those who are inactive for long periods of time, pregnant, or suffer from certain other health conditions. Prompt medical attention and properly following the pulmonary embolism guidelines for successful treatment can reduce the risk of complications and future instances.

Women on birth control pills may have a higher risk for having a pulmonary embolism.
Women on birth control pills may have a higher risk for having a pulmonary embolism.

Those who are concerned about developing a pulmonary embolism or are at greater risk may want to discuss their specific symptoms with a doctor so they can be prepared. In general, symptoms develop very quickly after the clot enters the lung. The person may suddenly have difficulty breathing and chest pain, which can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack. Other common symptoms include a cough that develops suddenly and may produce blood or pink mucous. Feeling faint, lightheaded, or dizzy are also possible indicators of a pulmonary embolism.

Chest pain and excessive sweating are common signs of a pulmonary embolism.
Chest pain and excessive sweating are common signs of a pulmonary embolism.

People who are likely to suffer a pulmonary embolism often first develop a deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in one of the veins of the leg, which travels through the body and into the lung. In general, some people are more prone to developing blood clots in the legs or other areas of the body. Older people and those who are sedentary for long periods of time due to illness, travel, or other causes may also experience deep vein thrombosis. Heart disease, certain types of cancer, and pregnancy can all be causes of blood clots. Pulmonary embolism guidelines suggest ways to reduce risk, including quitting smoking, using caution when taking certain types of birth control pills or hormone therapy, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Compression stockings can reduce the risk of getting blood clots in the lower legs by supporting blood circulation of the limbs.
Compression stockings can reduce the risk of getting blood clots in the lower legs by supporting blood circulation of the limbs.

Other pulmonary embolism guidelines include seeking emergency medical attention if the condition is suspected, because it can be fatal if not treated quickly enough. In severe cases, drugs can be used that help to dissolve the blood clot. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove very large clots. Drugs called anticoagulants, or blood thinners, may also be given to prevent new clots from forming. People who are at continued risk of developing blood clots may need to take these medications on a regular basis to prevent future instances of pulmonary embolism.

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    • When a blood clot blocks an artery in a lung, the resulting pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition.
      By: ras-slava
      When a blood clot blocks an artery in a lung, the resulting pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition.
    • Women on birth control pills may have a higher risk for having a pulmonary embolism.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Women on birth control pills may have a higher risk for having a pulmonary embolism.
    • Chest pain and excessive sweating are common signs of a pulmonary embolism.
      By: kmiragaya
      Chest pain and excessive sweating are common signs of a pulmonary embolism.
    • Compression stockings can reduce the risk of getting blood clots in the lower legs by supporting blood circulation of the limbs.
      By: Andreja Donko
      Compression stockings can reduce the risk of getting blood clots in the lower legs by supporting blood circulation of the limbs.