Pulmonary Embolism | Health Dictionary

The condition in which an embolus (see EMBOLISM), or clot, is lodged in the LUNGS. The source of the clot is usually the veins of the lower abdomen or legs, in which clot formation has occurred as a result of the occurrence of DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT) – THROMBOPHLEBITIS (see VEINS, DISEASES OF). Thrombophlebitis, with or without pulmonary embolism, is a not uncommon complication of surgical operations, especially in older patients. This is one reason why nowadays such patients are got up out of bed as quickly as possible, or, alternatively, are encouraged to move and exercise their legs regularly in bed. Long periods of sitting, particularly when travelling, can cause DVT with the risk of pulmonary embolism. The severity of a pulmonary embolism, which is characterised by the sudden onset of pain in the chest, with or without the coughing up of blood, and a varying degree of SHOCK, depends upon the size of the clot. If large enough, it may prove immediately fatal; in other cases, immediate operation may be needed to remove the clot; whilst in less severe cases anticoagulant treatment, in the form of HEPARIN, is given to prevent extension of the clot. For some operations, such as hip-joint replacements, with a high risk of deep-vein thrombosis in the leg, heparin is given for several days postoperatively.


Pulmonary Embolism | Health Dictionary

Keywords of this word: Pulmonary Embolism


AIR EMBOLISM

Medical Dictionary

A bubble of air in a blood vessel that a?ects the ?ow of blood from the heart. Air may enter the circulation after injury, infusions into the venous circulation, or surgery. The victim su?ers breathlessness, chest discomfort, and acute heart failure.... Medical Dictionary

CARDIO-PULMONARY RESUSCITATION

Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

A combination of mouth to mouth resuscitation (E.A.R.) to oxygenate the blood, and external chest compression (E.C.C.) to compress the heart to help pump this artificially oxygenated blood around the body to maintain tissue oxygen concentration and prevent death.... Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

CARDIOPULMONARY BYPASS

Medical Dictionary

A procedure in which the body’s circulation of blood is kept going when the heart is intentionally stopped to enable heart surgery to be carried out. A HEART-LUNG MACHINE substitutes for the heart’s pumping action and the blood is oxygenated at the same time.... Medical Dictionary

CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION (CPR)

Medical Dictionary

The use of life-saving measures of mouth-tomouth resuscitation and external cardiac compression massage in a person who has collapsed with CARDIAC ARREST. Speedy restoration of the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain is essential to prevent damage to brain tissues from oxygen starvation. The brain is irreversibly damaged if it is starved of oxygen for more than 4–5 minutes. Someone whose heart has stopped will be very pale or blue-grey (in particular, round the lips) and unresponsive; he or she will not be breathing and will have no pulse. It is important to determine that the collapsed person has not simply fainted before starting CPR. The procedure is described under car-diac/respiratory arrest in APPENDIX 1: BASIC FIRST AID. In hospital, or when paramedical sta? are attending an emergency, CPR may include the use of a DEFIBRILLATOR to apply a controlled electric shock to the heart via the chest wall.... Medical Dictionary

CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD)

Medical Dictionary

This is a term encompassing chronic BRONCHITIS, EMPHYSEMA, and chronic ASTHMA where the air?ow into the lungs is obstructed.

Chronic bronchitis is typi?ed by chronic productive cough for at least three months in two successive years (provided other causes such as TUBERCULOSIS, lung cancer and chronic heart failure have been excluded). The characteristics of emphysema are abnormal and permanent enlargement of the airspaces (alveoli) at the furthermost parts of the lung tissue. Rupture of alveoli occurs, resulting in the creation of air spaces with a gradual breakdown in the lung’s ability to oxygenate the blood and remove carbon dioxide from it (see LUNGS). Asthma results in in?ammation of the airways with the lining of the BRONCHIOLES becoming hypersensitive, causing them to constrict. The obstruction may spontaneously improve or do so in response to bronchodilator drugs. If an asthmatic patient’s airway-obstruction is characterised by incomplete reversibility, he or she is deemed to have a form of COPD called asthmatic bronchitis; su?erers from this disorder cannot always be readily distinguished from those people who have chronic bronchitis and/ or emphysema. Symptoms and signs of emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis overlap, making it di?cult sometimes to make a precise diagnosis. Patients with completely reversible air?ow obstruction without the features of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, however, are considered to be su?ering from asthma but not from COPD.

The incidence of COPD has been increasing, as has the death rate. In the UK around 30,000 people with COPD die annually and the disorder makes up 10 per cent of all admissions to hospital medical wards, making it a serious cause of illness and disability. The prevalence, incidence and mortality rates increase with age, and more men than women have the disorder, which is also more common in those who are socially disadvantaged.

Causes The most important cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, though only 15 per cent of smokers are likely to develop clinically signi?cant symptoms of the disorder. Smoking is believed to cause persistent airway in?ammation and upset the normal metabolic activity in the lung. Exposure to chemical impurities and dust in the atmosphere may also cause COPD.

Signs and symptoms Most patients develop in?ammation of the airways, excessive growth of mucus-secreting glands in the airways, and changes to other cells in the airways. The result is that mucus is transported less e?ectively along the airways to eventual evacuation as sputum. Small airways become obstructed and the alveoli lose their elasticity. COPD usually starts with repeated attacks of productive cough, commonly following winter colds; these attacks progressively worsen and eventually the patient develops a permanent cough. Recurrent respiratory infections, breathlessness on exertion, wheezing and tightness of the chest follow. Bloodstained and/or infected sputum are also indicative of established disease. Among the symptoms and signs of patients with advanced obstruction of air?ow in the lungs are:

RHONCHI (abnormal musical sounds heard through a STETHOSCOPE when the patient breathes out).

marked indrawing of the muscles between the ribs and development of a barrel-shaped chest.

loss of weight.

CYANOSIS in which the skin develops a blue tinge because of reduced oxygenation of blood in the blood vessels in the skin.

bounding pulse with changes in heart rhythm.

OEDEMA of the legs and arms.

decreasing mobility.

Some patients with COPD have increased ventilation of the alveoli in their lungs, but the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are normal so their skin colour is normal. They are, however, breathless so are dubbed ‘pink pu?ers’. Other patients have reduced alveolar ventilation which lowers their oxygen levels causing cyanosis; they also develop COR PULMONALE, a form of heart failure, and become oedematous, so are called ‘blue bloaters’.

Investigations include various tests of lung function, including the patient’s response to bronchodilator drugs. Exercise tests may help, but radiological assessment is not usually of great diagnostic value in the early stages of the disorder.

Treatment depends on how far COPD has progressed. Smoking must be stopped – also an essential preventive step in healthy individuals. Early stages are treated with bronchodilator drugs to relieve breathing symptoms. The next stage is to introduce steroids (given by inhalation). If symptoms worsen, physiotherapy – breathing exercises and postural drainage – is valuable and annual vaccination against INFLUENZA is strongly advised. If the patient develops breathlessness on mild exertion, has cyanosis, wheezing and permanent cough and tends to HYPERVENTILATION, then oxygen therapy should be considered. Antibiotic treatment is necessary if overt infection of the lungs develops.

Complications Sometimes rupture of the pulmonary bullae (thin-walled airspaces produced by the breakdown of the walls of the alveoli) may cause PNEUMOTHORAX and also exert pressure on functioning lung tissue. Respiratory failure and failure of the right side of the heart (which controls blood supply to the lungs), known as cor pulmonale, are late complications in patients whose primary problem is emphysema.

Prognosis This is related to age and to the extent of the patient’s response to bronchodilator drugs. Patients with COPD who develop raised pressure in the heart/lung circulation and subsequent heart failure (cor pulmonale) have a bad prognosis.... Medical Dictionary

EMBOLISM

Medical Dictionary

A blockage of blood vessels either by blood clot, fat or air; see gas embolism.... Medical Dictionary

EMBOLISM

Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

The plugging of a small blood vessel by an EMBOLUS which has been carried through the larger vessels by the bloodstream. It is due usually to fragments of a clot which has formed in some vessel, or to small portions carried o? from the edge of a heart-valve when this organ is diseased. However, the plug may also be a small mass of bacteria, or a fragment of a tumour, or even a mass of air bubbles sucked into the veins during operations on the neck. The result is usually more or less destruction of the organ or part of an organ supplied by the obstructed vessel. This is particularly the case in the BRAIN, where softening of the brain, with APHASIA or a STROKE, may be the result. If the plug is a fragment of malignant tumour, a new growth develops at the spot; if it is a mass of bacteria, an ABSCESS forms there. Air-embolism occasionally causes sudden death in the case of wounds in the neck, the air bubbles completely stopping the ?ow of blood. Fat-embolism is a condition which has been known to cause death

– masses of fat, in consequence of such an injury as a fractured bone, ?nding their way into the circulation and stopping the blood in its passage through the lungs. (See also PULMONARY EMBOLISM.)... Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

GAS EMBOLISM

Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

A blockage of a blood vessel by air or gas, usually caused when a diver ascends too rapidly, when the air expands, causing rupture of the lung tissues which then allows the air into the blood stream. It often results in death due to air bubbles occluding the blood vessels supply the brain (cerebral gas embolism).... Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

PULMONARY

Medical Dictionary

Relating to the LUNGS.... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY DISEASES

Medical Dictionary

See LUNGS, DISEASES OF.... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY EMBOLISM

Medical Dictionary

The condition in which an embolus (see EMBOLISM), or clot, is lodged in the LUNGS. The source of the clot is usually the veins of the lower abdomen or legs, in which clot formation has occurred as a result of the occurrence of DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT) – THROMBOPHLEBITIS (see VEINS, DISEASES OF). Thrombophlebitis, with or without pulmonary embolism, is a not uncommon complication of surgical operations, especially in older patients. This is one reason why nowadays such patients are got up out of bed as quickly as possible, or, alternatively, are encouraged to move and exercise their legs regularly in bed. Long periods of sitting, particularly when travelling, can cause DVT with the risk of pulmonary embolism. The severity of a pulmonary embolism, which is characterised by the sudden onset of pain in the chest, with or without the coughing up of blood, and a varying degree of SHOCK, depends upon the size of the clot. If large enough, it may prove immediately fatal; in other cases, immediate operation may be needed to remove the clot; whilst in less severe cases anticoagulant treatment, in the form of HEPARIN, is given to prevent extension of the clot. For some operations, such as hip-joint replacements, with a high risk of deep-vein thrombosis in the leg, heparin is given for several days postoperatively.... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY FIBROSIS

Medical Dictionary

A condition which may develop in both LUNGS (interstitial pulmonary ?brosis) or part of one lung. Scarring and thickening of lung tissues occur as a consequence of previous lung in?ammation, which may have been caused by PNEUMONIA or TUBERCULOSIS. Symptoms include cough and breathlessness and diagnosis is con?rmed with a chest X-ray. The patient’s underlying condition should be treated, but the damage already done to lung tissue is usually irreversible. (See also ALVEOLITIS.)... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY FUNCTION TESTS

Medical Dictionary

Tests to assess how the LUNGS are functioning. They range from simple spirometry (measuring breathing capacity) to sophisticated physiological assessments.

Static lung volumes and capacities can be measured: these include vital capacity – the maximum volume of air that can be exhaled slowly and completely after a maximum deep breath; forced vital capacity is a similar manoeuvre using maximal forceful exhalation and can be measured along with expiratory ?ow rates using simple spirometry; total lung capacity is the total volume of air in the chest after a deep breath in; functional residual capacity is the volume of air in the lungs at the end of a normal expiration, with all respiratory muscles relaxed.

Dynamic lung volumes and ?ow rates re?ect the state of the airways. The forced expiratory volume (FEV) is the amount of air forcefully exhaled during the ?rst second after a full breath – it normally accounts for over 75 per cent of the vital capacity. Maximal voluntary ventilation is calculated by asking the patient to breathe as deeply and quickly as possible for 12 seconds; this test can be used to check the internal consistency of other tests and the extent of co-operation by the patient, important when assessing possible neuromuscular weakness a?ecting respiration. There are several other more sophisticated tests which may not be necessary when assessing most patients. Measurement of arterial blood gases is also an important part of any assessment of lung function.... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY HYPERTENSION

Medical Dictionary

In this condition, increased resistance to the blood ?ow through the LUNGS occurs. This is usually the result of lung disease, and the consequence is an increase in pulmonary artery pressure and in the pressure in the right side of the heart and in the veins bringing blood to the heart. Chronic BRONCHITIS or EMPHYSEMA commonly constrict the small arteries in the lungs, thus causing pulmonary HYPERTENSION. (See also EISENMENGER SYNDROME.)... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY OEDEMA

Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

Fluid in the small air sacs of the lungs, from inefficient pumping by the heart or leakage of fluid from the blood vessels in the lungs (possibly from envenomation). As it prevents air exchange in the lungs it causes hypoxia and may lead to death.... Dictionary of Tropical Medicine

PULMONARY OEDEMA

Medical Dictionary

Collection of water in the lungs caused by left ventricular failure or MITRAL STENOSIS which produces back pressure in the LUNGS, thus forcing ?uid into the tissues. (See HEART, DISEASES OF.)... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY STENOSIS

Medical Dictionary

A disorder of the HEART in which obstruction of the out?ow of blood from the right ventricle occurs. Narrowing of the pulmonary valve at the exit of the right ventricle and narrowing of the pulmonary artery may cause obstruction. The condition is usually congenital, although it may be caused by RHEUMATIC FEVER. In the congenital condition, pulmonary stenosis may occur with other heart defects and is then known as Fallot’s tetralogy. Breathlessness and enlargement of the heart and eventual heart failure may be the consequence of pulmonary stenosis. Surgery is usually necessary to remove the obstruction.... Medical Dictionary

PULMONARY SURFACTANT

Medical Dictionary

Naturally produced in the LUNGS by cells called pneumocytes, this substance is a mixture of phospholipids (see PHOSPHOLIPID) and LIPOPROTEINS. Present in ?uid lining the alveoli (see ALVEOLUS) in the lungs, their action helps maintain their patency. Premature babies may have a de?ciency of surfactant, a disorder which causes severe breathing di?culties – RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME or hyaline membrane disease – and HYPOXIA. They will need urgent respiratory support, which includes oxygen and the administration (via an endotracheal tube) of a specially prepared surfactant such as beractant (bovine lung extract) or edfosceril palmitate.... Medical Dictionary

THROMBOEMBOLISM

Medical Dictionary

The formation of a thrombus (BLOOD CLOT) in one part of the circulatory system from which a portion becomes detached and lodges in another blood vessel, partially or completely obstructing the blood ?ow (an EMBOLISM). Most commonly a thrombus is formed in the veins of the leg – DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT)

– and the embolism lodges in the pulmonary (lung) circulation. PULMONARY EMBOLISM is a potentially fatal condition and requires urgent anticoagulant treatment (see ANTICOAGULANTS) and sometimes surgery. Extended periods lying in bed or prolonged sitting in a con?ned position such as a car or aeroplane can cause DVT; venous thromboses in the legs may occur after surgery and preventive anticoagulant treatment with HEPARIN and warfarin is often used. Similar treatment is needed if a thrombus develops. STREPTOKINASE is also used to treat thromboembolism.... Medical Dictionary