A 28 years old patient came to my clinic for seeking my help. He was not feeling good and he told me that he had pain in his chest. He added more than he also had a problem with his breathing like he couldn’t breathe good and I felt that the moment he arrived. He told me that he had severe pain in his chest for the past 3 days.
While we were talking about his health condition and how was he feeling at that moment he mentioned that he has been suffering from a cough and his father was diagnosed with DVT at a young age. When he told me about his father I suspected that he might be suffering from an acute pulmonary embolism. You might not know that acute pulmonary embolism is a blood clot which gets detached from DVT and it can be inherited from parents to their offspring.
After the physical exam and initial evaluation, he was advised for further tests. Before moving towards what happened next and how we treated him we should know some basics about the acute pulmonary embolism just to get an idea about the disease process and how we can treat and prevent it from happening to you.
Acute pulmonary embolism
Now the question arises what is acute pulmonary embolism and how we can prevent and if it happens to someone how we can treat it. First, we will see what is an acute pulmonary embolism. Acute pulmonary embolism is a disease or medical condition that occurs when blood clots travel from different parts of the body mainly the lower legs and legs towards the lungs and when they block one or more of the arteries that are present in the lungs. It leads to blockage of air ventilation.
We can say that acute pulmonary embolism is a dislodged clot from the DVT. In some cases, it may be fatal if not treated timely and if it is ignored it can be life-threatening because there might be a time when the affected person cannot breathe and die of hypoxia (low oxygen or no oxygenation). It will happen because one of the main or all of the arteries in the lungs will be blocked by the blood clots.
Now let’s discuss the symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism.
Symptoms of acute pulmonary embolism
There are many symptoms by which anyone can easily diagnose that the person is suffering from the acute pulmonary embolism.
The intensity of acute pulmonary embolism depends upon how much of your lungs are affected, whether you have underlying lung or heart disease and the size of blood clots that are blocking the arteries in the lungs resulting in the difficulty in breathing and sometimes fatal suffocation.
Shortness of breathing: It means that when a person is suffering from acute pulmonary embolism the first thing that will happen to him is that he wouldn’t be able to breathe good. It will happen suddenly and will get worse if not treated timely.
Pain in the chest: There will be a severe pain in your chest while suffering from this fatal medical condition. You may think that you are suffering from a heart attack. It will happen suddenly and will get worse over the passage of time.
Cough: Another symptom of the acute pulmonary embolism is that you will have a lot of coughs and there might be blood coming out due to the excessive cough.
Syncope: It is not very common but many patients do present with the symptoms of Syncope or passing out due to lack of oxygenation.
Treatment of acute pulmonary embolism
Now that we have discussed briefly the symptoms and disease itself now move towards the most important part that how we treated that patient and how someone can prevent the acute pulmonary embolism.
First of all, start the nasal cannula oxygen to help with breathing. Immediately after the comforting the patient, we start diagnostic workup. The patient’s images showed pulmonary embolism. He was admitted to the hospital and started on blood thinners right away. He was continuously treated with IV blood thinner for a few days along with oral blood thinners. Once, the oral blood thinner reached to the therapeutic level, IV blood thinners were discontinued. Then, he was sent home on oral blood thinner for the next 4 months.
After completing the treatment with the blood thinner, we suggested him to wear compression stockings. The compression Stockings are known to prevent pooling of blood in the lower extremities, hence blood does not form the clot. He was also recommended to keep his legs raised for about 4 to 6 inches above the bed during rest while so blood does not pool in the lower parts of the leg.
It is so essential to stay active to prevent DVT (Deep venous thrombus) or PE (Pulmonary Embolism). If one is traveling, he or she should not sit more than 2 hours at a time. One should always get up and move every 2 hours to prevent blood pooling in the lower extremities.
We also used Medshoola pneumatic compression pump to his legs which automatically inflate the air and deflate it to keep the blood flow going (it mimics the exercise phase and increase blood circulation). Since the blood will not able to pool in the lower extremities, it will not form the blood clot.