The pulmonary embolism is an obstruction of an artery of the lungs, caused by a clot in the blood.
In France, there are about 100 000 cases per year,
10 000 to 20 000 of which are mortal
The blood clot is building up by a venous thrombosis (generally in the legs). It detaches itself from the well of the vein and climbs up with the blood towards the heart. The heart muscle is throwing the clot with the heart contractions into the more finer pulmonary arteries, where it stays blocked. The clot is causing damages to the affected lung. The infringed part so can no longer deliver the oxygen to the organism.
What causes its emergence ?
It can become visible by :
- Difficulties in blood coagulation,
- By a long travel being seated all the time (by plane, by car, etc.)
- By a surgical operation, namely an orthopaedic one (prosthesis of limbs, etc.)
- By prolonged immobility
- By pregnancy or in giving birth
- A higher total volume of red blood cells (polycythermia)
- A cancer
- A cardiac insufficiency or a respiratory one
Which are its symptoms ?
The pulmonary embolism comes up suddenly by :
- Pain in the side of the thorax
- Difficulty of respiration (with quick and short breath)
- A cough with a sputum of blood
Other signs may show, which often represent how much it is attacked :
- Uneasiness or even fainting
- Acceleration of the cardiac rhythm
- Blue extremities (fingers, lips)
- rather seldom: heart stillstand
Which are the possible treatments ?
In case of a pulmonary embolism hospitalization cannot be avoided.
This can help to make a check-up and to get the optimal treatment under surveillance to avoid other complications. The patient will receive oxygen and in order to avoid the building-up of new clots and to hinder their growth of the existing ones, he is administered anticoagulants.
Prevention can be made by :
- Walking and moving the legs when for a long time immobilised (travel by plane etc.)
- By getting up before time after a risky surgical intervention
- By wearing compression stockings to favour the backflow of the veins of the inferior limbs and to avoid the appearance of thrombosis