Pulmonary Embolism


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A pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot lodging in the lung.  The clot doesn’t develop in the site of the lung itself; it will have formed somewhere else and have travelled to the lungs through the blood. 

One of the most common locations for the formation of the clot is in the leg; the name given in a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  These clots can form if the leg is stationary for an extended period of time.  Cases of deep vein thrombosis often occur on long-haul flights, exacerbated by prolonged episodes of sitting in one position, and the issues surrounding pressure and oxygenation of the blood at altitude.  However, another common cause is post cosmetic surgery complications.  The risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis, and therefore experiencing a pulmonary embolism can also be increased if you have a history of problematic blood clotting, suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure, take contraceptive medication or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have a family history of thrombophilia (an increased susceptibility to blood clotting.)

Smoking and obesity can also potentially increase your likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis. 

Symptoms can include pains in the chest, difficulty breathing, episodes of unconsciousness and coughing up blood.  Any of these are serious enough in themselves to warrant medical attention, but could be potentially life-threatening if they indicate a pulmonary embolism.  For this reason it is essential to seek emergency medical assistance immediately.