Prevention of pulmonary embolism


Pulmonary embolism is an extremely dangerous condition that in its most acute form can be fatal. Therefore, pulmonary embolism prevention should be given special attention. Since pulmonary embolisms are usually the result of blood clots, the most important preventive measure is thrombosis prophylaxis (preventing a blood clot). This includes measures such as physical activity and movement or the avoidance of absolute immobility. Drug therapy also plays an important role. Using blood thinners, depending on your personal risk profile, the probability of a pulmonary embolism can be significantly reduced.

General information can be found at: Pulmonary embolism

What measures can be taken to prevent pulmonary embolism?

The most common cause of pulmonary embolism is blood clots that form in the leg veins, from there travel with the bloodstream to the heart and then pumped into the lungs. Therefore, thrombosis prophylaxis plays the main role in the prevention of pulmonary embolism.
Thrombosis prophylaxis is based on three different principles. This includes first of all exercise therapy and mobilization. The more active someone is about their life and the more they are on their feet and exercise, the less likely it is that a blood clot will develop in their legs. Exercise should not only be taken into account in everyday life. Physical activity is of great importance in all situations in which someone sits still for a long time (long-haul flight, meeting, bed rest). Here it helps to move your legs regularly, to get up from time to time and to drink enough. Compression also plays an important role. That is why it is recommended to wear compression stockings on long flights, for example. This means that less blood accumulates in the legs and thromboses are less likely to form. The third pillar of thrombosis prophylaxis is based on drug therapy with blood thinners.

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What role does sport play?

Exercise also plays a role in preventing pulmonary embolism. The effect of sport is based on several principles, all of which serve one purpose: the formation of a blood clot, which loosens from a vessel, gets into the lungs and causes an embolism there, should be prevented. With this so-called thrombosis prophylaxis, sport can prevent several effects.
Thromboses are particularly common in deep veins in the legs. If you stand or sit for a long time, the blood collects more easily in the legs. This changes the flow conditions in the leg veins and blood clots form more easily. One can prevent this on the one hand by lying down. Another method is physical activity that uses the legs. Cycling, running, walking, and swimming are especially good. The movement of the calf muscles also stimulates the blood circulation in the legs. The muscles also help to move the blood from the veins back to the heart. This means that fewer clots are formed. Sport also has a positive effect on body weight. Too much weight not only stresses the veins, it also has a negative impact on the heart and circulation.

Is it safe to prevent pulmonary embolism by diluting the blood?

The most common cause of a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot. This has usually formed in a leg vein over a long period of time. At some point it peeled off and got to the heart in the bloodstream. From there it was pumped into the lungs, where it blocked a pulmonary artery, causing an embolism. This kind of disease development can be prevented with blood thinning. In most cases, “normal” blood thinning with medication such as Marcumar® or Xarelto® is sufficient. However, even in uncomplicated cases with this therapy, there is no reliable exclusion of pulmonary embolism. However, before the uncomplicated case is assumed, possible coagulation disorders must be ruled out. Particular attention must be paid to this clinical picture in blood-thinning therapy, as it plays a decisive role in the success of the treatment.
In general, when treating with blood thinners, a middle path must always be found that weighs the risk of a blood clot against the risk of dangerous bleeding. For example, pulmonary embolism cannot be prevented with absolute certainty with blood thinners, but the risk is significantly reduced with the right medication.

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