Blood Clots

Excluding Pulmonary Embolism with Capnography

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety)

[Editor’s note: We need a safer, more accurate, readily available diagnostic test for pulmonary embolism. Anna Hemnes, MD of Vanderbilt provides evidence that capnography may be such a test.] 

Pulmonary embolism (PE) can be a fatal condition. It occurs when there is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the patient’s lungs, which most often occurs when a blood clot in the legs (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) or sometimes other parts of the body dislodges and travels to the lungs.

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Blood clots can occur in patients of all ages and conditions. As the National Blood Clot Alliance states, “Blood clots affect people from all walks of life…blood clots don’t discriminate.” (NBA all-star, Chris Bosh, will miss the remainder of 2014-15 season due to blood clot found in his lung.)

More than 200,000 people in the US die of acute PE each year, making it a leading cause of cardiovascular death. However, when a patient is accurately diagnosed and then treated, researchers have found that hospital mortality rates can fall from 30% to 8%. Consequently, when a patient exhibits symptoms of having PE, making a safe, non-invasive, and inexpensive assessment that can be rapidly done at the bedside is an important first step in improving health outcomes.

More than 200,000 people in the US die of acute #pulmonaryembolism each year #ptsafety Click To Tweet

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety has worked with panels of experts to develop recommendations that may assist in preventing venous thromboembolism (VTE), a source of PE, in maternity and stroke patients. One of our experts, Anna Hemnes, MD, Assistant Director Pulmonary Vascular Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and her colleagues completed research that investigated making a safe, non-invasive, and inexpensive assessment to exclude PE.

Dr. Hemmes and I recently discussed why this research is so important.

To read the interview, please read the article on The Doctor Weighs In.

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