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Your Healthy Family: How a Deep Vein Thrombosis can be life-threatening

Posted at 1:33 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 13:33:02-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot in a deep vein — typically in your legs — that can block blood flow. They're usually not life threatening, unless that clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, forming a Pulmonary Embolism.

A blood clot in a deep vein of one of your legs can become life-threatening in seconds.

“It is important that people realize how scary it is. It's not something to take lightly and can really hurt a lot of people,” Dr. Joseph Cipriano of Lumiere Cosmetic Vein Center in Cape Coral said. "If the clot broke free and actually went to the lungs, that patient that had no symptoms all of a sudden can be in the ER with cardiopulmonary arrest."

Dr. Cipriano said the clot, or Pulmonary Embolism (PE) impedes blood flow out of the heart.

"Depending upon the size of the PE, it can make it so that there's difficulty of blood getting through the lung back to the heart. And as you can imagine, if you start putting pressure on a pump, and the pump has to work harder than it should, it will and can cause damage to that pump,” he said.

Signs of a PE include chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood.

“If they're having shortness of breath, better to go straight to the ER," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said when a PE cuts off blood flow and oxygen to your lungs, it can cause immediate cardiopulmonary collapse. This condition can happen to anyone at any age.

"It's age indiscriminate. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. A PE doesn't care if you're 18, a PE doesn't care if you're 90. When it happens, and you have this interruption of blood flow, it can be mortal. it can hurt people immediately and be life threatening," Dr. Cipriano said.

Studies show a Pulmonary Embolism was missed in 84 percent of cases in which someone died from a PE.