Pulmonary Infarction

Pulmonary infarction results from the plugging of a branch of the pulmonary artery (which carries blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs) by a clot that forms in the artery (thrombosis), or, more often, by a piece of clot carried by the bloodstream to the lung from a thrombus located elsewhere. The involved area of the lung becomes functionless and tissue deterioration develops. The condition occurs as a complication of thrombosed veins, of certain forms of heart disease, or of severe injuries. It may also occur following surgery.

The onset is marked by a sudden piercing pain in the chest which radiates to the shoulder, difficult breathing, an irritating cough, and blood-tinged sputum. Persistent hiccup may be present. The patient is anxious, has a rapid pulse, and usually sweats profusely. There may be an elevation of body temperature. In severe cases the patient may be in a state of shock.

Pulmonary infarction is a dangerous condition, the outcome depending on the size of the affected area of lung tissue. Prompt treatment by a physician with the necessary equipment (preferably in a hospital) can save many lives that would otherwise be lost. Fortunately, in most cases patients are already in a hospital when pulmonary infarction occurs. Hospital treatment consists of the administration of oxygen, the use of anticoagulants, and the prevention of infection. Surgery may be indicated.

Pulmonary Infarction Treatment And Prevention

  1. If symptoms of pulmonary infarction develop while the victim is at home, consult a physician at once.

  2. If shock develops, give appropriate first-aid treatment. See Handling Emergencies under Shock.

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