While not very widespread, pulmonary embolism (PE) is a fatal condition that can affect anyone. In simple terms, PE is a blood clot that initially takes place in a different part of the body, like the legs, but ends up blocking the blood flow to the lungs. It results in a significant collapse of bodily functions, leading to a high mortality rate.
Fortunately, this condition can be diagnosed and treated. Those who think they may be at risk of PE should take steps to understand the disease and how doctors treat it.
How do You Know it’s Happening?
While there are many identifiable symptoms of PE, it’s difficult to recognize the condition without a doctor because many of the same symptoms occur with other common medical conditions. If a couple of these symptoms appear simultaneously, it’s likely indicative of PE. The most common symptoms of PE include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Excessive and violent coughing of blood.
- Excessive sweating at random.
- Dizziness or passing out from lightheadedness.
- Irregular heartbeat patterns.
- Anxiety attacks at random.
- Low blood pressure.
When two or more of the above symptoms are identified, it’s time to consult a physician for an immediate diagnosis. PE is just as lethal as a heart attack, so don’t take any chances.
How to be Sure of the Diagnosis
When it comes to PE, doctors have a lot of tools to help confirm a diagnosis. Multiple medical tests that are relatively inexpensive can accurately the condition. These diagnostic methods include:
- Chest x-ray
- Ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) lung scan
- Pulmonary angiogram
- CT scan
Among these methods, the first two are the most common.
How to Treat a Pulmonary Embolism
Fortunately, PE patients have numerous options for treatment. Depending on an individuals health history, their doctor may recommend one of the following courses of treatment:
- Different types of PE medicine
- Blood thinners or anticoagulants
- Fibrinolytic therapy
- Vena cava filter
- Pulmonary embolectomy
- Percutaneous thrombectomy
- Clot dissolvers
- Clot removal
As mentioned above, PE is too serious to take lightly. When it comes to severe conditions, don’t take the risk of self-diagnosing and self-prescribing using a WebMD search. Don’t take any PE medication without seeing a physician.
Know the Signs and Take Action
While pulmonary embolism is a dangerous medical condition, it’s also highly treatable. Everyone, especially those advanced in age, should know the symptoms. With the right knowledge, people at risk of pulmonary embolism can spot the signs early and seek proper care before the condition becomes life-threatening.