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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Pulmonary (PUL-mo-ner-ee) embolism (EM-boh-lizm) is the sudden blockage of an artery (blood vessel) in the lungs by an embolus. An embolus is usually a blood clot, but may also be fat, air, or tumor cells that are in the blood stream. Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pains, fast heartbeats, sudden shortness of breath, and trouble breathing. Treatment may include medicines and surgery to remove or break up the clot. Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition. Chances of survival are better with early diagnosis and treatment.
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Blood thinners: Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin and a soft toothbrush on your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports, such as football.
- Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when taking medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you are taking this medicine.
- Take this medicine exactly as your caregiver tells you. Tell your caregiver right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine. Your caregiver uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you.
- Talk to your caregiver about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as cooked peas and kiwifruit.
- Warfarin: Warfarin is a type of medicine that helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Using warfarin may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily. If you are taking warfarin:
- Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. Doing this can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Many medicines cannot be used when taking warfarin. Talk to your caregiver about all of the other medicines that you use. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take warfarin. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you are taking this medicine.
- You will need to have regular blood tests while taking warfarin. Your caregiver uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you to take. Take warfarin exactly how your caregiver tells you to. Tell your caregiver right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Talk to your caregiver about your diet. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of Vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- When taking medicine to prevent blood clots, you will need to have your blood tested regularly. Ask your caregiver when to return to have blood tests.
You may need to wear support socks. The support socks are also called Ted Hose® or Jobst Stockings®. These socks may help decrease the swelling in your legs until you are walking more. They may also keep blood from staying in your legs and causing clots.
How can I decrease my chances of getting blood clots?
- Start an exercise program. Talk with your caregiver about the best exercise program for you and when you can start.
- Do not smoke. Talk to your caregiver about ways to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You are bleeding from your gums or nose, or if you see blood in your urine or bowel movement. Check your bowel movements to see if they are black or darker than normal.
- You are bruising easily and often.
- You have any questions or concerns about your illness or medicine.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You lose consciousness (faint).
- You feel that your heart is beating very fast.
- You have convulsions (seizures) or migraines (very bad headaches).
- You have slurred speech, increased sleepiness, or problems seeing, talking, thinking, or remembering.
- You have weakness or cannot move your arm or leg on one side of your body.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.