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Pulmonary Emboli - A Serious Post-op Complication


Pulmonary emboli - or clots in the lungs are very much on my mind these days. In the space of one month, two friends of mine, both young women (30's) who suffered large bone fractures ended up in ICU post-operatively due to life-threatening pulmonary emboli. This troubles me because it's a post-op complication that should be preventable in most cases.

Facts about pulmonary emboli (PE):
  • Pulmonary embolism is the lodging of a thrombus from a distant site in the pulmonary circulation
  • 650,000 cases occur in each year 50,000 resulting in death
    • more lethal in women and the elderly
  • 5 symptoms of (PE):
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
    • Cough, coughing up blood
    • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • 5 Risk Factors
    • Trauma to the lower extremities
    • Post-operative state
    • Prolonged immobilization (including air travel)
    • Use of estrogen containing BCP
    • Obesity
The take away from this post is that if you have had a fracture or surgery and have any of the above symptoms, don't wait. This is a life-threatening emergency for which you must seek immediate treatment.

Prevention is key - walking and getting active as soon as medically possible following illness or injury is imperative. Get the blood in your legs circulating. Talk to your doctor about prophylactic use of blood thinners.

Thank you brykmantra for use of photo Lubbock Heart Hospital.
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