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P868 Understanding Venous Thromboembolism

C H A P T E R 1 What is pulmonary embolism? A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot (embolism) that forms in a vein and travels through the blood into the lungs. It then lodges in the lungs and blocks blood flow. This forces the heart and lungs to work harder to get oxygen-rich blood out to the rest of the body. In severe cases, the stress this puts on the heart and lungs can cause them to fail. Most commonly, a PE is the result of deep vein thrombosis. Who is at risk? Anyone can get deep vein thrombosis. But there are a variety of factors that contribute to the development of the condition. The following risk factors make DVT more likely to occur: 77 Being inactive for a long period (such as being bedridden due to illness or on a long trip in an airplane or car) 77 Injury to a vein 77 Family history of blood clots or having a previous DVT 77 Recent surgery Other risk factors include age, pregnancy, smoking, having another vein problem and being overweight. People who have diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol levels are also at risk for DVT. Understanding Venous Thromboembolism Pulmonary embolism: Know when to call 911 A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when an embolus (a piece of blood clot) in the bloodstream travels through the heart and into the lungs. If the embolus becomes lodged in a blood vessel in the lungs, blood flow can be blocked. Symptoms can quickly develop and cause life-threatening heart and lung problems. When to call 911 A pulmonary embolism can cause symptoms similar to those of heart conditions. Get medical help right away if you have the following: 77 Shortness of breath 77 Sudden chest pain 77 Fast heartbeat 77 Sweating 77 Fainting 77 Coughing up blood Pulmonary Embolism: Know When to Call 911 Download/print this PDF 6


P868 Understanding Venous Thromboembolism
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