Pulmonary Embolism

Posted by Lachmi Deb Roy on Mon, Apr 18, 2011  
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Serena William’s illness created quite a stir in the sports world. Former number one world tennis champion is affected with pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has traveled from elsewhere in the body through the blood stream. It is a result of deep vein thrombosis or clotting of blood in the body. Most commonly this clot is seen in the legs.


Now the obvious question that arises is how does pulmonary embolism occur? Well this can happen because of various reasons like smoking, pregnancy, long hospitalization, birth control pills, cancer, hormone replacement therapy, obesity and it can be hereditary too. Clots are caused because of reduced blood flow through the veins which leads to blood cells sticking together.


The symptoms of pulmonary embolism are sharp chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain is so sharp that there is an acute pain when one takes a deep breath in. The patient may have a stable blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, but the heart rate may be frequently elevated. The general symptoms are palpitation, sweating, anxiety and dizziness.


Patients suffering from pulmonary embolism are hospitalized and are then treated with clot dissolving drugs. Oxygen therapy is required to maintain oxygen concentration. A number of tests need to be done before the treatment including a chest X-ray, pulmonary angiography, electrocardiography, arterial blood gas measurements, ultrasound and Doppler test.















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