A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that was located in one of your veins, dislodged and travelled to your lung. Once the clot has lodged itself in a blood vessel in your lung, it is blocking the blood supply to part of that organ. This increases the blood pressure in your lungs, which makes your heart pump much harder than usual. If this is not corrected, your heart continues to overwork and enlarges, potentially failing to perform. This is why early diagnosis and treatment is paramount.
How Did I Get a Pulmonary Embolism?
This condition arises from a blood clot in your veins called a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) (please see this section under Venous Conditions) that has dislodged and travelled to your lung. Factors that contribute to a DVT or pulmonary embolism include:
- Family history of blood clots or pulmonary embolism
- Inherited blood clotting disorder
- Surgery or trauma (particularly to the legs), hip, or leg fractures
- Cancer and cancer therapy
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time
- History of heart attack or stroke
- Birth control pills or hormones for menopausal symptoms