What is a blood clot in the lungs?
A blood clot is a solid or semisolid clump of blood. When the tissues of our body are injured, excessive blood loss is prevented by the clotting of blood. When a blood clot occurs inside the blood vessels it may lead to serious medical conditions. When a blood clot occurs inside the arteries to the lungs, the condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE). The terms ‘embolus’ (plural: emboli) and ‘embolism’ refer to a blood clot or a part of a blood clot that forms at one site in the body and travels to another site. Pulmonary embolism is a condition in which this traveling clot lodges itself in the arteries of the lungs.
What causes blood clots in the lungs?
Pulmonary embolism can be caused by many factors:
- Surgery, especially surgery on the abdomen, hip, and knees
- Bone fracture, especially long bone fractures such as of the thigh bone (femur)
- A long period of confinement to the bed or a wheelchair
- Prolonged hospitalization
- Cancer and chemotherapy
- Pregnancy and the first six weeks after delivery
- Heart diseases
- Estrogen-containing birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen
- Being obese or overweight
- Long hours of sitting, such as on a long air flight
- Family history of blood clots
What are the early signs and symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs?
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism differ depending on:
- Size of the clot
- The extent of lung involvement
- Underlying medical conditions
Common signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism are:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain, which may get worse while breathing.
- Cough, which may be associated with coughing up blood.
- Pain in the shoulder, arm, neck, or back.
- Pale or bluish lips and nails.
- Excessive sweating.
- Leg pain or swelling.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or passing out.
- Palpitations (feeling of racing heartbeat).
- Wheezing (noisy breathing).
Can you recover from a blood clot in the lungs?
Early treatment of pulmonary embolism is important to prevent serious complications. Treatment aims at preventing:
- An increase in the size of the blood clot
- The formation of new clots
Treatment options include:
- Anticoagulation medicines (blood thinners): They are the most common treatment for a blood clot in the lungs. Although blood thinners do not make your blood thin. They slow the process of new clots forming and prevent the already formed ones from getting bigger. Blood thinners include:
- Thrombolytic therapy (“the clot busters” or “clot dissolvers”) to dissolve the existing clots.
- Surgery may be needed to remove a very large, life-threatening clot.
- Compression stockings may be useful to prevent the recurrence of pulmonary embolism, as most of the clots in the lungs originate in the legs.
- A vena cava filter may be surgically placed in a large vein of the abdomen called the vena cava. It can ‘filter out’ or catch blood clots from the legs before they reach the lungs.
- Management of risk factors ( cessation of smoking, weight control, regular exercise).
- Suitable attention must be given to reduce the risk of bleeding while on anticoagulants. The doctor may advise avoiding certain foods, alcohol, or some over-the-counter medications (such as aspirin and sleeping pills).
- People on blood thinners should not overexert themselves during exercises.
Is a clot in the lung dangerous?
Although a clot in the lung may be a life-threatening condition, with appropriate treatment and lifestyle modifications that reduce the risk factors, most people live well.
Some of the complications of pulmonary embolism are:
- Disorders of heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
- Heart failure
- Pleural effusion (collection of fluid around the lungs)
- Pulmonary infarction (the death of lung tissue)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs)
- Sudden cardiac death
As treatment of pulmonary embolism involves using anticoagulants, there can be anticoagulant related complications also. These include:
- Surgery Doesn't Get Safer When Patient, Surgeon Are Same Gender
- Got GERD? Eat This Way to Help Avoid Symptoms
- Want to Avoid Knee Replacement? Build Up Your Thighs
- Breathing in Coal-Based Pollution Could Be Especially Deadly: Study
- Scans Show Brain Changes in People With Long COVID
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Serious Is a Blood Clot in the Lungs Related Articles
Blood Clot PictureBlood that has been converted from a liquid to a solid state. See a picture of Blood Clot and learn more about the health topic.
Blood Clots (in the Leg)Blood clots can form in the heart, legs, arteries, veins, bladder, urinary tract, and uterus. Risk factors include high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and family history. Symptoms and treatment depend on the location of the clot.
Blood Clots: 4 Signs You Could Have OneBlood clots can be deadly medical emergencies that can form in different parts of your body. Learn the warning signs that you might have one.
What Conditions Are Treated With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat several medical conditions including decompression sickness (DCS) and air embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, and more. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally safe and well-tolerated. Side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy may include ear pain or pressure, muffled hearing, sinus pain or bleeding, tooth pain, dry cough, chest pain or burning, hearing loss, difficulty in breathing, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), dizziness, vision loss or clouding of vision, seizure, dry cough, chest pain or burning.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT, Blood Clot in the Legs)Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins, and can be caused by broken bones, trauma to a limb, immobility, medications, smoking, cancer, genetic predisposition, and cancer. Symptoms and signs of a deep vein thrombosis in a leg are swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth, and pain. Treatments for DVT include medications and surgery.
How Do You Know If You Have a Blood Clot in Your Leg?Blood clots are clumps of blood formed when the blood changes from a fluid to a semisolid form. When a blood clot is formed in one of the large veins in the legs or arms, the condition is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A blot clot in your leg can hamper the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area. An untreated DVT may cause the clot to grow bigger and break in small pieces that can travel to other organs, such as the heart and lungs, causing serious consequences.
Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung)A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a piece of a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks off and travels to an artery in the lung where it blocks the artery and damages the lung. The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heart rate. Causes of pulmonary embolism include prolonged immobilization, certain medications, smoking, cancer, pregnancy, and surgery. Pulmonary embolism can cause death if not treated promptly.
What Are the 3 Rarest Blood Types?The red blood cells or RBCs present in the blood carry certain molecules, called antigens, on their surface that determine what blood group you have. The antigens depend on the genes you inherit from your parents. These antigens may be grouped in various categories to form a system for blood typing called the ABO system. The EldonCard blood type test kit uses the basic forward antibody technique of blood hematology for quick and simple determination of your blood type.
What Is a Plication of the Diaphragm Procedure?A surgical plication of the diaphragm treats paralysis or abnormally shaped diaphragm. This condition usually leads to breathing difficulties. Diaphragm paralysis is typically due to damage to the phrenic nerve. Abnormality of the diaphragm may be birth related. Surgical plication to stabilize the diaphragm is needed to prevent the lungs from ballooning outward during expiration (breathing out).
What Is Barotrauma in Mechanical Ventilation?Barotrauma is a condition in which the alveoli (air sacs of the lungs) rupture with a subsequent entry of air into the surrounding extra alveolar space. Barotrauma mainly occurs either due to the rupture of the air sacs (alveolus) of lungs or a direct injury. Alveolar rupture can be either ventilator-related or disease-related. Ventilator-related causes include Positive pressure ventilation and Elevated pressure. Disease-related causes include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic interstitial lung disease, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With COPD?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases with the chief symptom of breathlessness and cough. COPD is a slowly progressive disease. Depending on the disease severity, the five-year life expectancy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranges from 40%-70%. That means 40-70 out of 100 people will be alive after five years of diagnosis of COPD.
Why Is Decortication Performed?Decortication is a surgical procedure that removes the restrictive layer of fibrous tissue overlying an organ. It is mostly performed to remove the fibrous layer over the lung, chest wall, and diaphragm. Decortication surgery aims to remove this fibrous layer and allow the lung to expand, decrease breathing problems and other lung symptoms. There are two types of decortication surgery: open thoracotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).