Blood clots generally form in the legs then dislodge and travel to the lungs where they cause symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pain. Large blood clots (or pulmonary emboli) can be life-threatening. There are many risk factors for the development of blood clots such as immobility (bed rest, long flights), hospitalization, cancer and surgery. In addition, there are some genetic disorders that are predispose to blood clot formation.
Blood clots in the legs are usually diagnosed with an ultrasound also called a Doppler ultrasound. Clots in the lungs can be identified with a CT scan, a nuclear medicine scan and pulmonary angiography (injecting contrast directly into the pulmonary arteries). The correct diagnosis of blood clots, especially in the lungs, often requires special expertise.
The treatment of blood clots is usually with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or injectable blood thinners such as Lovenox. Alternatives to Coumadin are now available. These Novel Oral Anticoagulants (Xarelto, Pradax, Eliquis) do not require blood tests and do not have the same dietary and medication interactions. Many patients find them much easier. The doctors at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists are experts in these newer blood thinners. All blood thinners stabilize the clot and allow the body to break down the clot. Occasionally, for massive pulmonary emboli, we administer clot busting medicine (TPA). This very strong medicine directly dissolves the clot. For all medicines that thin the blood or break down clot, there is a risk of bleeding.
Treatment duration for blood clots can be quite variable depending on the specific circumstances. This often requires advice from experts in blood clot medicine such as a pulmonologist. Careful monitoring of Coumadin is required to minimize bleeding risk and maximize your safety.
If you suspect that you have a blood clot, you should either call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency department for further evaluation.
Occasionally patients that experience a pulmonary embolism go on to develop pulmonary hypertension. The pulmonary hypertension team at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists is expert in evaluating and managing this problem. To learn more about pulmonary hypertension, visit http://WWW.PulmonaryHypertensionRN.com
The lung doctors at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of emphysema. Our team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will work with you to ensure that you understand your medications and other treatments.
We have a Coumadin clinic at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists. Our nurses will help efficiently manage your Coumadin levels under the supervision of our doctors. We use a finger-stick machine that only requires one drop of blood and provides results in one minute.