Pulmonary embolism refers to the obstruction or fixing of blood clots (thromboses) in blood vessels of the lungs. Of the entrained blood clots, which are usually transported by the leg veins through the heart, the lungs are often affected. The blood clots in the arterial blood vessels (blood arterial embolism) of the lungs lead to blood and nutrient deficits in the affected blood vessels.
Risk groups, such as people with congenital blood clotting system disorders or people who are immobile, as well as those who are freshly operated, tend to thromboses and thus to embolisms. Obesity, smoking, birth control pills and certain medications can increase the risk of thrombosis. In some cases, blood clots that have formed in the heart may be responsible for pulmonary embolism.
Depending on the size of the blood clot, different symptoms may appear at different intervals. If the blood clot is small, it usually comes only to atypical cough. Severe pulmonary embolism may include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing (blood), sweating or anxiety. Also typical are the bluish discoloration of the skin, fingernails or lips, due to the lack of oxygen.
After a detailed conversation on the history of the disease, special clinical and technical examinations can be carried out, i.a. Blood and oxygen saturation tests, ECG, X-ray and ultrasound examinations, computed tomography and magnetic resonance tomography and nuclear medicine examinations (scintigraphy).
The treatment of pulmonary embolism is usually to be initiated immediately after diagnosis, as this can be life-threatening. Depending on the form of the disease, conservative or surgical therapies may be initiated. Mostly anti-coagulant drugs are used, oxygen therapies initiated and bed rest prescribed. Within the so-called “lysis therapy” special lysis drugs can promote the dissolution of the blood clot. In congenital deficits, such as blood coagulation system damage, the therapy can be used for life or special operations performed.
General preventive measures include early mobilization after surgery, avoiding too much bed rest, a healthy diet and lots of exercise. Especially on longer flights you should make sure that you move the legs (feet) regularly, so that it can come to no thrombosis. The airlines are usually familiar with the thrombosis risks on flights and provide information and suggestions. People with an increased risk of thrombosis will find comprehensive advice and preventative treatment at the doctor.
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