A blood clot in the lung, or pulmonary embolism, refers to the obstruction of blood flow in the lungs. It usually results from the dislodgement of a blood clot from another part of the body and travels to the lung. The risk of pulmonary embolism increases when the individual has cancer, is a smoker, has a history of a stroke, is on prolonged bed rest, taking estrogen-based medication, obese, pregnant, has certain genetic conditions, or has had recent surgery.
In some patients, pulmonary embolism can be caused by amniotic fluid, fat, or air embolization. The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism can be made based on the signs and symptoms. An additional test known as the D-dimer test can help to rule out the condition. A computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography, or lung ventilation or perfusion scan can also be used to help confirm the diagnosis.
Prevention of pulmonary embolism includes ambulation as soon as possible after surgery, blood thinners such as heparin or warfarin, and lower leg exercises after prolonged sitting. Prevention efforts are usually recommended for a duration of 6 months. In severe cases of pulmonary embolism, patients may require thrombolysis using tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or surgery such as pulmonary thrombectomy. A vena cava filter can also be inserted. In the United States, pulmonary embolism is estimated to affect about 300,000 to 600,000 individuals, which results in 50,000 to 200,000 deaths annually. This article looks at 10 symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs.
Symptom #1: Dyspnea
Dyspnea or shortness of breath refers to the feeling where one feels that they are unable to breathe well enough. Affected individuals often describe requiring more effort to breath, air hunger, and chest tightness.
Dyspnea is usually caused by respiratory or cardiovascular issues such as congestive heart failure, asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac ischemia, panic disorder, and interstitial lung disease. It is also one of the main symptoms in patients with pulmonary emboli due to blood clots that are lodged in the lung.