Jul 17

Watch Out for A Pulmonary Embolism


A husband without his wife. Two kids without their mother. Why? We suspect she died from a pulmonary embolism.

I met two wonderful people yesterday on the saddest day of their lives. They came into my office to discuss the sudden death of their wife/mother. This fine lady–I know because she was a previous client of mine following a car accident many years go–had hip surgery a few weeks ago. Last week, she felt really sick and was experiencing shortness of breath. She died on Saturday morning.

Although I am not a doctor and we are awaiting the autopsy report, I believe her death was a result of a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that blocks an artery in your lungs. Without proper treatment, it is a life-threatening problem.

Blood clots form more easily in your blood vessels if your blood is flowing very slowly through your veins. Your risk of developing blood clots increases if you smoke, if you are less active as a result of surgery, disability, or illness; you have broken a leg or hip; or if you sit for long periods (as as with car and airplane travel).

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism may include chest pain (often hurts when you take a deep breath); shortness of breath; dizziness; fever; coughing up blood; feeling anxious; lightheadedness or fainting.

Your doctor should order tests and scans including a chest x-ray; CT scan; electrocardiogram; measurement of the level of oxygen in your blood; lung scan; ultrasound scan of your legs; and a pulmonary angiogram.

A pulmonary embolism does not have to kill. With proper care such as blood thinners and other medication and possible surgery, a clot can be dissolved. Without proper care, a pulmonary embolism will kill.

If you or a loved one has undergone surgery and experience shortness of breath, go to the emergency room right away and explain that you had recently undergone surgery. It is important that treatment is rendered immediately!

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