Early diagnosis saves lives
A serious and not uncommon symptom of APS is a blood clot in the lungs, known medically as a pulmonary embolism. Blood clots in the legs, arms or other parts of the body can break loose and travel to the lungs where the clot becomes known as a pulmonary embolism. This often stems from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is one of the most common symptoms of APS and around one in ten people with untreated DVT will develop a pulmonary embolism.
The pulmonary embolism blocks the blood supply to the lungs and is a potentially life-threatening condition. The symptoms will depend on the size of the blood clot and may include:
It is very important to get treatment quickly as about 30% of people with untreated pulmonary embolism will die. The good news is that prompt diagnosis and treatment with anticoagulants can save lives and prevent further complications.
APS can also affect the lungs in other less common ways:
This condition occurs due to abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.
The lungs are full of millions of tiny, thin air sacs called alveoli that take care of the inhalation and exhalation of oxygen and carbon dioxide respectively. Haemorrhage (bleeding) into the alveoli can occasionally occur in APS patients, and symptoms can include coughing sometimes accompanied by blood, fever and shortness of breath. If left untreated, pulmonary haemorrhage can lead to respiratory failure and even death. Treatment usually starts with high doses of corticosteroids and needs very highly specialised care in hospital.
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