GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– On average, one American dies of a blood clot every 6 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As part of our ask the expert series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with a pulmonologist and has what you need to know about blood clots in the lungs.
A blood clot in the lung is called a pulmonary embolism.
“It really causes an obstruction in at least some of the blood flow through the lungs. It also causes some inflammation that almost acts like some localized pneumonia that interacts with blood flow or with oxygen uptake from the lungs into the bloodstream,” Dr. Chris Sine said.
Dr. Chris Sine, a pulmonologist, says pulmonary embolism can also restrict blood flow to the heart, which is very dangerous.
“It can’t pump and move blood to the rest of the body and feed the organs, like the brain and even the heart arteries or your kidneys,” Dr. Sine said.
And it requires immediate medical attention.
“The mainstay of therapy is just blood thinners.”Dr. Chris Sine, Pulmonologist, Bon Secours St. Francis
Dr. Sine goes on to say, “There are lots of different types of blood thinners nowadays. In general, just blood thinners alone are adequate. There are a number of other therapies that we use at times. But, for the most part, as long as someone’s not in shock, their blood pressure is not low, then most of the time, it’s really just blood thinners.”
If you think you might be too young or too physically fit to experience a blood clot, think again.
A pulmonary embolism can affect people of all ages, race, and gender.
There are a few symptoms to look for, but usually, a pulmonary embolism comes on very quickly.
“There’s not a huge warning sign once it goes there. It usually starts with chest pain, shortness of breath, or increased breathing rate, and fast heart rate sometimes.”Dr. Chris Sine, Pulmonologist, Bon Secours St. Francis
There are some risk factors
“Males being overweight or obese, smoking, cancer ends up being a big risk factor for a lot of people. Also, having surgery, particularly on an extremity or trauma of the lower extremities can cause those risks. Pregnancy or other hormonal therapy, like oral contraceptive medications can do it,” Dr. Sine said.
Dr. Sine says a sedentary lifestyle can also increase your risk. If you have a job where you are sitting for long periods of time, remember to get up every couple of hours and get moving to improve blood circulation.
Blood clots can also form in the heart and in your veins, most commonly in your legs.
For more resources on recognizing and preventing blood clots, click here.