The Prevention of Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism, a complication of the condition of deep vein thrombosis, results from a blood clot forming in one part of the body and then traveling in the blood stream to a lung, blocking a lung artery. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, the blood clot often starts in a leg before making its dangerous journey to the lung. As many New Mexico residents have experienced, the results can be devastating. There may be damage to the lung due to lack of blood flow, as well as to other organs in the body due to shortage of oxygen.

While exact numbers are not clear, without proper medical treatment, nearly a third of incidents of pulmonary embolism result in death with others resulting in disability. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there are many actions that can be taken to prevent DVT and embolism.

Post-surgical patients and others who have been confined to bed for even a short period of time are encouraged to become active and move around, when medically sound to do so. The CDC further points out that people who sit for extended periods at a time should take a break and move around at least every two to three hours. Moreover, episodes of extended sitting, such as at a work desk, may include exercising the legs periodically from that sitting position.

Medical providers may also consider prescribing compression stockings as well as anticoagulant medications for those patients at risk. Dangers may also be reduced by keeping a healthy body weight, enjoying a more active lifestyle, and adhering to a doctor’s advice based on one’s individual medical risk.

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