Does Gender Play a Role in Pulmonary Embolisms?

 A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the pulmonary artery. This artery supplies blood to the lungs, and when it is blocked, the results can be deadly. Unfortunately, pulmonary embolisms are fairly common, affecting one in every one thousand people in the United States each year. 


 These blockages, usually caused by a blood clot, cut off Oxygen supplies from reaching lung and tissues. The risk of a pulmonary embolism increases with age, especially for individuals who have experienced blood clots in other parts of the body. There are other factors that can increase an individual's risk for a pulmonary embolism; one of which being gender. 

Overall, women are more likely to die from a pulmonary embolism and require extra care after being discharged from the hospital after developing this condition. Women are also more likely to need blood transfusions and experience shock from a PE. Women generally have more complications and incidence than men when it comes to PE. 

Studies involving gender and PE are in their somewhat early stages, and although the pattern of women being at a higher risk for PE and having more complications has been determined, scientists are not entirely sure why this pattern exists.

Pulmonary embolisms are threatening to both sexes, and once you have experienced one, your chance of getting another goes up. If you have had a pulmonary embolism, your doctor will suggest anticoagulants as one of your first tools of prevention for having another. The street name for these pills are "blood thinners" and they do basically exactly that; make it harder for your blood to clot. It is important to note that they will not break up an existing blood clot, but rather, stop additional blood from clotting while your body works to break up the original clot.

In addition to anticoagulants, there are other pulmonary embolism therapies available. Compression stockings are commonly used for people who have suffered from PE's. These stockings aid in the blood flow in the legs. Your doctor will prescribe them to help prevent blood pooling. There are also surgical procedures to help when a PE is life-threatening. Surgery can be done to remove the embolus from the artery. Or for more preventative measures, surgery may be used to place a filter in one of the veins around your lungs. 

Thrombolytic therapy may also be an option. This is basically the use of tissue plasminogen activators to dissolve the clot. Sometimes referred to as "clot busters", they may be used if a patient has low blood pressure or are not in a good condition due to their PE. If you believe you are at risk for a PE, it is important to consider pulmonary embolism therapies. 

Pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening to both genders, although they appear to have more serious effects on women. Pulmonary embolisms are incredibly serious medical conditions. If you believe you are experiencing one, contact 911 immediately. Talk to your doctor to learn your risk or a pulmonary embolism and to hopefully prevent yourself from suffering from one.
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