Pulmonary Embolism

How To Effectively Help Your Loved Ones Prevent Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism in the elderly

Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot in the leg breaks loose and travels to the lungs. It increases with age, and so do the rates of mortality associated with the disease. It is a pretty serious condition, that can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Furthermore, it is the third leading cause of death. After myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular disease.

Pulmonary embolism – a disease of old age

According to various research studies, in the elderly, it is still underdiagnosed as well as undertreated. Experts claim that as the risk of it shoots up with age. It becomes necessary to adopt techniques that would help in early detection of the condition, and thus prevent fatalities. In view of this, studies of the lower extremities coupled with regular lung scanning should be of prime importance. to help in the early detection of the condition for your loved ones.

Understanding It

It is a condition, wherein a blood clot gets trapped in the artery of the lungs, crippling the oxygen supply. It is a fatal condition and can cause death within an hour of its onset if prompt action is not taken.
The sequence of events that follow after the clot gets deposited. Largely depend on the size of the thromboembolic (blood clot) and the site it gets attached to. For example, if there is small thromboembolism. It usually attaches itself to the distal areas of the lungs and in most cases remains asymptomatic in nature. Causing only cough or chest pain. However, if there is a big clot. then it gets trapped in the pulmonary artery of the lungs. And can cause hemodynamic compromise, which can eventually lead to death.

Risk factors

Pulmonary embolism is more often a resultant reaction or a complication of deep vein thrombosis. The phenomenon, that causes the blood clot in the leg to break loose and get deposited in the lung artery. Gives rise to pulmonary embolism. However, apart from deep vein thrombosis, there are many other risk factors that can put your loved ones at risk of the disease. Following is a comprehensive list of risk factors for pulmonary embolism:
  • A family history of either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • Advancing age
  • Living an inactive or sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications
  • History of stroke or heart attack
  • Fracture of the hip, leg or pelvis
  • Surgery in the last 3 months of knee, pelvis, hip or abdomen
  • Varicose veins
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Symptoms of Pulmonary embolism

The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism is very difficult. Especially in those loved ones, who are suffering from heart disease or lung disorder. Furthermore, it becomes important to have proper knowledge about the signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. Timely recognition of the symptoms will enable prompt action and can help in saving many lives.
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism would largely depend on the size of the clot. And the extent of damage to the affected lungs. Moreover, the nature of the symptoms would also be due to the presence of heart diseases. The following is a comprehensive list of symptoms of pulmonary embolism:
  • Shortness of breath:

This is a classical symptom of pulmonary embolism. When there is a clot in the lungs, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing is usually the first sign. Shortness of breath worsens with exertion or physical activity.
  • Cough:

This is usually productive in nature, and the sputum may contain blood in it.
  • Chest pain:

The chest pain would be so severe and would not go away with rest. The pain shall worsen upon any form of physical activity or while coughing.

In addition to the above common symptoms

  • Low-grade fever
  • Bluish tinge in the skin, as the oxygen supply to the lungs, gets diminished
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pain in the legs, especially in the calf muscles
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety and restlessness

Preventing pulmonary embolism

Even though anticoagulant medications, do their job fairly well. But still, there are good chances of a recurrence of one. Therefore, it is advisable to adopt certain lifestyle changes. that can help in preventing further attacks of one. Here are certain strategies that can help in preventing pulmonary embolism:
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  • Age and exercise

With advancing, age and immobility are the biggest risk factors for pulmonary embolism. With age, our loved ones tend to become immobile either due to disease conditions. Or for the will of living a sedentary lifestyle. All these simply increase the chances of developing pulmonary embolism. Therefore, medical experts always recommend everyone to exercise and to not sit for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. If your loved ones find it difficult to go for walks, then you can always make them move their legs while they are sitting. This can also significantly reduce the chances of developing blood clots in the legs. Thereby preventing the incidence of pulmonary embolism. Ask your elderly to pump their feet up and down, with their toes pointing towards the knee and down. This is a very good exercise and we need to encourage our elderly to practice it daily.
Pulmonary Embolism
  • Smoking

This is another important factor that can increase the chances of having one. If your elderly has the habit of smoking, it is essential that you help them quit it.


Following the above tips and suggestions can help. It can be difficult to attend to your loved one with the thought of a pulmonary embolism, but it’s not impossible. With the right knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself and keeping your business going while you are caregiving. I’m here to assist you on this journey, schedule your planning session with me so we can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly. Also, check out this article on breathing.
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Pulmonary Embolism

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