Pulmonary Embolism Death

Sometimes a blood clot can move into a major blood vessel and cause blockage. This condition is pulmonary embolism, which can cause life-threatening complications in case the clot is large. Usually, the clots are small but they can still cause damage to the lung. A larger clot can stop the flow of blood to the lung, which may cause symptoms such as a cough that brings up foamy mucus, sudden shortness of breath, and a sharp pain in the chest that becomes worse when you take a deep breath. It is important to see your doctor when you experience these symptoms to prevent any problems caused.

Will Pulmonary Embolism Cause Death?

Yes, with pulmonary embolism death is possible in case a large blood clot suddenly blocks the blood flow to the lung. This may result in sudden death. Statistics show that about one-third of people with untreated and undiagnosed pulmonary embolism die because of complications. There are good chances of survival though in case the condition is diagnosed and treated in time.

Recurring Pulmonary Embolism Can be Fatal

Blood clots that cause pulmonary embolism usually do not require treatment and dissolve on their own. However, you are more likely to develop a serious case of pulmonary embolism if you have had an episode in the past. And when it comes to recurrent pulmonary embolism death becomes a more likely complication. Once diagnosed, it is important to treat your condition with anticoagulant medicines, which help prevent new clot formation.

It is important to understand that some people may develop pulmonary embolism by something other than a blood clot. You can have an episode due to substances such as fat, air, or amniotic fluid, but these substances usually do not increase your risk of having another episode. Still, if you have to deal with blood clots often, you may have to live with reduced blood flow through the heart and lungs. This overtime increases blood pressure in the lungs and eventually leads to right-sided heart failure and death.

Complications Besides Death

Even if pulmonary embolism does not prove fatal on its own, it leaves you with several complications. It can lead to pulmonary hypertension in which the blood pressure in the right side of your heart and in your lungs is too high. Your heart has to work harder when there is any obstruction in the arteries within your lungs, which in turn increases your blood pressure and weakens your heart.

Although it is rare, small embolic can occur frequently and result in chronic pulmonary hypertension. Some other complications include abnormal heart rhythms, shock, cardiac arrest, pulmonary infarction, paradoxical embolism, pleural effusion, and pulmonary hypertension.

Treatments to Prevent Death and Other Complications

Main treatment for pulmonary embolism involves keeping the blood clots from forming or getting bigger. Prompt treatment improves chances of recovery and prevents serious complications, including pulmonary embolism death.

1. Medications

  • Blood Thinners: Your doctor will prescribe anticoagulants to help keep your blood thin, which in turn prevents new clots from forming. Heparin is a common choice. Injected under the skin or given through the vein, heparin works efficiently and quickly, especially compared to oral anticoagulants, such as warfarin. Blood thinners are usually effective but they increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Clot Dissolvers: When clots do not dissolve on their own, your doctor may prescribe a clot dissolver. Your doctor will give these clot-busting drugs only in cases when other treatments do not work. They help dissolve clots quickly, which is why they can cause severe bleeding.

2. Surgical and Other Procedures

  • Clot Removal: In order to remove a life-threatening clot in your lung, your doctor may recommend surgery. The procedure involves using a thin, flexible tube called catheter to remove the clot.
  • Vein Filter: The procedure involves positioning a filter into the inferior vena cava, which is your body's main vein. A catheter is used for this procedure. The advantage of this filter is that it keeps clots from going into your lungs. Your doctor may recommend this option only when you cannot take anticoagulants or those blood-thinners do not work in your case.

How to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism

When it comes to pulmonary embolism death is possible if left untreated. Certain factors also increase your risk, but you can take some steps to lower your risk of developing pulmonary embolism. For instance:

  • Anticoagulants: Taking anticoagulants may help prevent a pulmonary embolism. Your doctor will explain how often you need to take a blood-thinning drug to prevent new clots from forming.
  • Compression Stockings: Wearing compression stockings may greatly reduce your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. These stockings fit tightly around your lower leg and promote the flow of blood – your blood now flows quickly around your body due to the compression on your leg. You can also use compression devices for the same benefits.
  • Balanced Diet and No Smoking: You should quit smoking to lower your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. Also, stick to a well-balanced diet that is low in fat and includes plenty of fresh veggies and fruits. Combine your diet with exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Increasing Mobility: Improve your activity level to prevent blood clots from forming. You are more likely to develop a clot when your activity level is low for a long time, especially during recovery from surgery. You should consider increasing your mobility of a period of inactivity and perform some leg exercises whenever possible.

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are at a greater risk of developing clots and want to travel long distances. They may suggest ways to reduce your risk of developing a clot, such as taking short walks whenever possible, doing leg exercise, getting active on re-fueling stopovers, and wearing compression stockings.

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