Pulmonary Embolus and Deep Venous Thrombosis

What is a PE (pulmonary embolus) and DVT?

A pulmonary embolus is a blood clot that lodges within a pulmonary artery within the lungs. Often times these blood clots originate from other parts of the body most commonly the legs. This can be very dangerous and if untreated can be fatal however with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment patients do well.

DVT stands for deep venous thrombosis or commonly referred to as blood clots in the legs. If untreated, DVTs can travel up the venous system and form clots in the lungs. Often patients develop swelling of the leg from the blood clot.

What are the signs and symptoms of a PE?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fainting/ lightheadedness
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Low oxygen levels

What are the signs and symptoms of a DVT?

  • Pain/tender to touch
  • Swelling/ tightness
  • Redness

What are the risk factors for PE and DVT?

  • Recent Travel
  • History of PE/DVT
  • Inactive State
  • Recent Surgery
  • Family History
  • Smoking
  • Malignancy
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic factors

How is it diagnosed?

Pulmonary embolisms are diagnosed most commonly by spiral CT scan with IV dye. The IV dye allows the radiologist to look for blood clots within the pulmonary arteries. This is not an invasive procedure and can be performed at both the Georgia Lung Austell and Marietta offices. Some patients have allergies to IV dye and therefore a test called a VQ scan can be performed to look for mismatching within the lungs. DVTs are diagnosed via ultrasound of the extremities. This is also a non-invasive test looking for blood clots within the deep veins of the legs or arms.

What is the treatment?

The treatment for DVT or PE is a type of medicine called anticoagulants or “blood thinners.” This type of medication works on the clotting system within the body to help prevent the formation of new blood clots. Anticoagulants are prescribed for a variety of conditions and require regular monitoring and adjustments.

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