Infarction refers to the death of tissues due to lack of oxygen or blood supply in the area. Lung infarction, therefore, is the death of lung tissues brought about by lack of blood supply in the lungs. This condition usually occurs when a blood clot coming from other areas of the body lodges in a blood vessel of the lungs. The blood clot, also known as emboli, usually comes from a thrombus, a clot formed in the blood vessels of the legs, heart, or arms. Other types of emboli that may also result in lung infarction include fat emboli, air emboli and tumor emboli.
Those who are at risk in developing lung infarction due to pulmonary embolism include individuals with cancer, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), blood coagulation problems, and sickle cells anemia. DVT often develops in the large veins of the thigh or leg, and cause swelling and pain in the area. In blood coagulation disorders, there is the increased tendency to form blood clots inside the body. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to be abnormally shaped.
Other conditions leading to pulmonary emboli and lung infarction are prolonged bed rest, trauma to the chest and hip area, and surgery. Some studies also associate the long-term use of oral contraceptive pills (OCP) to blood clotting disorders.
Symptoms of lung infarction include fever, cough with the presence of blood in the sputum, increased beat of the heart, and pain in the chest with each breath. Depending on the degree of lung infarction, patients also often experience breathing difficulty. When a large blood clot blocks a blood vessel that supplies major areas of the lungs, it can frequently result in shock. This can even lead to death when the patient is not given immediate medical intervention.
Most patients suffering from pulmonary embolism and lung infarction are usually admitted to the hospital for treatment and monitoring. They are often given medications that can help dissolve the clot that has formed in the body, and other drugs to prevent the development of more blood clots. These patients often need the expertise of medical specialists like the pulmonologist and the cardiologist. Some patients may also need the help of surgeons when surgery becomes a treatment option.