Can you get blood clots in your lungs?
Pulmonary embolism (PE) happens when a blood clot forms within the veins and travels to the lungs blocking oxygen transfer to the blood and normal heart function. Blood naturally flows in the body in the veins back to the heart and then to the lungs through the pulmonary artery. When a clot is present, it blocks the normal flow of blood out of the heart leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, cyanosis-blue color, and possible failing heart and death.
PE can be caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of clots in blood vessels deep within the body. These clots usually travel to the lungs from a deep vein in the leg, and can develop when your body has thick blood, stagnant blood or injury. This is why it is important to move throughout the day, to stand up and walk, especially after a recent surgery or during long plane flights.
Compression stockings and blood thinners can help prevent blood clots and should be prescribed by medical providers for patients deemed at risk. It is best to discuss options on screening and treatments with your primary care provider.
Chris Lesar, MD